Trying to explain reincarnation to humans, Silver Birch said, is like trying to explain the color of the sky to someone who has been blind from birth. “You have no standard of comparison,” he explained.
Michael Tymn, Sun 19 Jul, 23:18
Now you’ve done it! Your panegyric lauding the incomparable virtues of “old book stores” unleashed a torrent of memories of countless entranced hours spent at the old Strand Book Store in NYC.
Don Porteous, Sun 19 Jul, 18:00
Whatever the joys of living in bucolic central PA—-access to the smell of old books (other than my own shelves) is sadly not among them!
Dear Michael, Don and Amos,
To continue with the topic of reincarnation, I made mention at the top of my last comment of the passage only yesterday discovered in Mr. Heagerty’s “The Hereafter: Firsthand Reports from the Frontiers of Afterlife,” which is actually taken from August Goforth’s “The Risen: Dialogues of Love, Grief & Survival Beyond Death”. But first, let me tie this comment in with my prior one, in which I discussed the dusty tome “Spiritualism” by John Worth Edmonds and George T. Dexter. A passage from the introduction of the first volume, which my eye serendipitously fell across while writing my prior comment sets the stage nicely for my further considerations (while also possibly challenging the reader’s ‘subtle prejudice’ against the reading of ‘old books’):
And yet again was it said, “Men have sought for truth with eager and earnest minds, but sought for it where it does not exist. The senses of the body have been regarded as the medium through which the soul has looked out on the beauties of the visible universe. Hence men have regarded the material as the real. That which they could see with their eyes, hear with their ears, feel by their senses, they have thought the substantial reality. They have looked upon the universe as a glorious temple in which man was born to live and die, and when they have looked out upon its light-bathed surface and up to its starlit dome, they have regarded it as a great theater of light in which each must perform his part and pass to rest.
But, oh, there is something deeper and more beautiful than this! There is something back of the glory of the stars, something back of the changeling forms of earth. The great divinity lives in this expanded temple, and all outward things and thoughts, all light, all beauty, all life, are but the feeble, external expression of the internal and ever-living reality. Oh, beautiful is this inward world which the senses may not perceive. Deep as the unfathomable depths of infinity is the realm of spiritual life. High as the majestic sphere of heaven leads the pathway of unending progress. And here in this great world of life and thought and being is the sphere of the soul’s development. In this inward world dwells the divine reality for which men have sought in vain in the outward. Here is the truth which makes its appeal to the living soul. Here is the light which cheers and gladdens the inward vision. Here the life that flows in never-ending streams down into the depths of the human spirit.” (Vol.1, pp.59-60)
Now, the passage from August Goforth’s “The Risen”, conveyed by the discarnate ‘co-author’ of that work, Timothy Gray:
Let me impress a picture in your mind that you can then adequately describe. The mind-body is a movie projector, which manifests the story of our life onto the screen of creation. This is true for the [discarnate] Risen as well. A movie is not the actual life itself, but a series of ‘stills’ or ‘still lifes’ vibrating at a frequency that manifests as movement.
All that appears to be moving and living around us is also a projection manifested by our individual mind, simultaneously with all other projecting minds ~ hence, ‘the known universe.’ When you attempt to comprehend or ‘grasp’ reality by holding a piece of it in your mind, it’s like taking a snapshot of the projected life around you. You then believe you now hold the scene in your mind’s grasp. The illusion that you are outside the manifested reality is strengthened and so individual separation appears to be the reality ~ the comprehended becomes apprehended.
Yet all the while this apprehended separation appears to be taking place, the individual Spirit behind the projector has not become uncreated. Manifestation changes, but creation endures. Each individual Spirit is not only running the projector, but it is the projector, and also the film, the screen, and the environment in which the projector itself is manifesting ~ and the projector is also being projected. And even though each ‘still life’ of the film appears to be unmoving, it is still life, because the energy formed as the manifestation is itself moving. Remember, everything manifested moves, everything lives, everything is connected as an infinite Oneness. The Oneness is never ending and thus immortal ~ so, then, is each individualized Oneness. Awareness of our individualized Oneness is also the feeling of immortality. I’ve become aware of my immortality since Rising. You’ve become aware of it already as have many others on earth, which is happening in increasing numbers. (p.156)
What is remarkable in this second quoted passage is that neither Heagerty, nor Goforth nor Gray make note of its very close similarity to the ‘projector and screen metaphor’ frequently employed by the great 20th century Advaitic sage Ramana Maharshi, whom – just to give some point of reference – Paul Brunton first brought to the attention of the West in “A Search in Secret India” and who subsequently served as the model for the realized sage encountered by Larry Darrell in W. Somerset Maugham’s classic novel “The Razor’s Edge”. To present a few choice passages from Ramana expressing this metaphor of projection:
From our perception of the world there follows acceptance of a unique First Principle possessing various powers. Pictures of name and form, the person who sees, the screen on which he sees, and the light by which he sees: he himself is all of these. (Ramana Maharshi, “Forty Verses on Reality,” Verse 1)
The Real is ever-present, like the screen on which all the [movie] pictures move. While the pictures appear on it, it remains invisible. Stop the pictures, and the screen, which has all along been present, in fact the only object that has existed throughout, will become clear. All these universes, humans, objects, thoughts and events are merely pictures moving on the screen of Pure Consciousness, which alone is real. Shapes and phenomena pass away, but Consciousness remains ever. (S.S. Cohen “Guru Ramana,” p.46)
What is called ‘mind’ is a wondrous power residing in the Self. It causes all thoughts to arise. Apart from thoughts, there is no such thing as mind. Therefore, thought is the nature of mind. Apart from thoughts, there is no independent entity called the world. In deep sleep there are no thoughts, and there is no world. In the states of waking and dream, there are thoughts, and there is a world also. Just as the spider emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and again withdraws it into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself and again resolves it into itself. When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears (to be real), the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears (shines) the world does not appear. When one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue). What is referred to as the Self is the Atman. The mind always exists only in dependence on something gross; it cannot stay alone. It is the mind that is called the subtle body or the soul (jiva). (Ramana Maharshi, “Who Am I?,” p.13)
What, you rightly ask, does any of this – interesting as I trust it is – have to do with reincarnation? The point is this. We quite naturally think of reincarnation – or even just incarnation – in terms of ‘embodiment’. To be (re)incarnated is, first and foremost, to be embodied. This seems self-evident, in line with our natural conception of being embodied – literally, ‘in-a-body’, right here and right now. What could be more self-evident than that? This view may be seen, under not much analysis, to in fact be completely mistaken, in fact an inversion of the actual state of affairs. The true situation is not that we are ‘in a body’, but rather that our body is ‘in us’. Douglas Harding’s wonderful little classic “On Having No Head” brings this point out with great clarity, but in brief, the body is ‘in’ our perceptual and sensory field, is contained within our awareness and is an ‘object’ in relation to it. Our aware perception certainly appears to have a locus with the body, but the body is in fact ‘projected’ forth by the Self or Spirit within, rather than being a material container that holds or binds this Self or Spirit.
What is particularly remarkable about the above passage from Timothy Gray is the clear statement that this ‘mechanism’ of projection is essentially the same whether in the context of ‘earthly embodiment’ or ‘etherial embodiment’. The apparent nature and context of these bodies clearly differs, but in both cases, the body and its context are a ‘projection’ onto the ‘screen’ of experience by the inherent Self or Spirit. Between these situations, the continuity, that of the Self or Spirit and its projection forth, is far more significant than the discontinuity, that of the differing projected bodily natures and contexts.
There are numerous passages scattered throughout the discarnate-related literature that give testament to how the ‘internal and subjective’ is projected forth as the ‘external and objective’ in the experience of the discarnate individual and thus serve as so many points of corroborating evidence to the essential correctness of the view presented above. To cite just a few of these, we have from the discarnate Myers:
In the first state your vision is limited by your earth experiences and memories, and so you create your own version of the appearances you knew on earth. Understand, however, that in Illusion-land you do not consciously create your surroundings through an act of thought. Your emotional desires, your deeper mind manufacture these without your being actually aware of the process. For still you are the individualized soul caught within the limitations of your earthly self and caught also within the fine etheric body which now is yours.
(“The Road to Immortality”)
Out of the memories of earth the soul creates his environment, builds, through his imagination, the special dream, the primal object of his appetites or desires during this state of Illusion.
(“Beyond Human Personality”)
Similarly, from the discarnate Frances Banks:
I can express it best in this thought; the ‘subjective’ of the earth plane mind has become the ‘objective’ in this new state of Being. This I begin to comprehend, is the law of progress. By it we advance onwards into realms of incredible beauty and wonder. How can I make this clear? The ‘subjective’ or inner content of my thoughts, aspirations and desires here and now will fashion the ‘objective’ place to which I will pass on the next stage of my journey, just as the inner life of the soul within the body-mind on earth decides the first future ‘home’ on this [discarnate] level.
(“Testimony of Light”)
Finally, from the discarnate Arthur Conan Doyle:
The inward spiritual conditions of the inhabitants become externalized… Paradoxical though
it will appear, these conditions come about because the human spirit is at last able to modify the conditions and environment which surround it from itself, from out of itself.
(“The Return of Arthur Conan Doyle”)
In light of the various points of testimony and accompanying considerations, I might end by requoting from the passages with which Michael closed his most recent comment, “What in you reincarnates, do you think?” “…a tiny projection of the Greater Self.”
Paul, Sun 19 Jul, 17:42
Thanks to all for your most interesting responses, and a fascinating discussion.
Don Porteous, Sun 19 Jul, 16:18
Amos Oliver—your reference to the “birthmark case” was of particular interest. I recall that at the time I read it (years ago) I seemed to remember something about the “controls” of some medium (I thought at the time it might have been Feda and Mrs. Leonard)having attempted to “influence” them while still in the womb. This raised the possibility (given the reality of what can be accomplished via “physical mediumship”)that perhaps that “influence” might extend to the endowing of certain “physical characteristics” such as the birthmark. As it turns out, my memory was totally incorrect (Feda mentions—in “My Life in Two Worlds”—having kept track of Gladys Osborne SINCE BIRTH, but that was it). I suspect that your reading of that particular case (as a true reincarnation event) is on target.
As I’ve pointed out somewhere in an earlier post, Paul and Michael’s surmise that Myers’ view of a “limited” number of incarnations for “most” of us is probably correct, is also the view of a significant majority of the communicating spirits as a whole.
Dear Michael, Don and Amos,
On the present reengagement with the perennial topic of reincarnation, I came across a passage yesterday afternoon in a very recently published book by N. Riley Heagerty, possibly the only person in the world who knows the old Spiritualist, discarnate-related literature better than Michael does – which is really saying something!
As an initial and, as it turns out ‘longish’, aside, I checked in with the Forever Family Foundation podcast archives [www.foreverfamilyfoundation.org/radio_archives] a week or two back, which I like to do every few months just to see if there have been any interesting interviews. It’s always a bit of a mix there, but some very interesting interviewees do appear from time to time. Michael, as I discovered, had done yet another interview with them in late April [type ‘Tymn’ in the search bar there]. Given how much I have read of him, I didn’t expect to learn anything new – and yet I did anyway.
Sometimes the problem with the older discarnate-related literature – as well as that of more recent vintage – is simply knowing which writings are worthy of one’s attention and which can be safely passed by. The interviewer, at one point, was commenting on how little by way of profound wisdom seemed to come out of mediumistic communications and Michael, in response, noted that this was not always the case and that a number of earlier such communications did convey profound wisdom, noting particularly John Worth Edmonds and George T. Dexter’s “Spiritualism” (2 Vols.) [readily available through Internet Archive], with a hoary copyright date of 1853.
I have had this work in pdf format for years, but had paid little attention to it. Michael’s comment caused me to pull the pdf down from my electronic shelves, blow the figurative dust off it and give it a perusal. His claim is certainly borne out, as the purported discarnate communications given are principally from Emmanuel Swedenborg, a European spiritual giant and one of the greatest polymath geniuses of the 18th century, whom the noted Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki referred to as “your Buddha of the North”, and Francis Bacon, the English Renaissance statesman and philosopher (I personally would have preferred the other Bacon, Doctor Mirabilis).
In other words, this is not your deceased aunt Matilda, nattering on about knitting and tea. There are very interesting exchanges on a variety of topics, and yet I couldn’t help but be aware of a certain internal resistance in my engagement with the book, a resistance that seemed related to its age. Partly, it was a matter of the language, but this would seem a poor explanation, as it is really no more archaic than, say, “The Spirits’ Book” or “Spirit Teachings” and considerably less so than, say, the King James Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, the diary of Samuel Pepys or the plays of Shakespeare. Partly problematic also, I suspected, was simply the older style layout and heavy font of the original and the inherent poorer reading quality of any scanned material. Cambridge University Press reprinted the two volumes in 2011, but these are simply scanned facsimile copies of the originals, no better than what Internet Archive has, and not retypeset ‘new’ editions.
I find myself rather embarrassed by this resistance and see in it the possibility of a kind of prejudice. In this, I am reminded of a remarkably useful and pointed bit of advice once given by C.S. Lewis in, of all places, his introduction to Athanasius’ “On the Incarnation”. The essay has come to be known as “On the Reading of Old Books” [https://reasonabletheology.org/cs-lewis-on-reading-old-books/] It is well worth one’s time, having the great virtues of both charm and brevity. Although the focus of his discussion is upon the ‘Christian classics’, his advice is really far more wide-ranging in application than that particular corpus.
As a counterpoint to Lewis’s advice, the aforementioned Mr. Heagerty begins his very new book, “The Hereafter: Firsthand Reports from the Frontiers of Afterlife,” with a lovely little essay, seemingly a bit odd in placement, titled “The Old, Used and & Rare Bookstore: Some Brief but Thoughtful Guidance” regarding the existential charm found in the visiting of antiquarian and used bookstores. Although I am grateful as hell for bookfinder.com and remember very well the ‘old days’ when you really had to work to find a copy of some obscure, long out-of-print title, I know just what he means.
I am sometimes struck with the frequent oddity of political life and the causes taken up in its name, all the more so as many of the most vocal are ardent secularists who speak loudly on behalf of transcendent values that are simply incoherent in the face of their own materialist philosophy and yet never once show the least awareness of the contradiction. If the resistance against old books is a kind of subtle prejudice, then perhaps a political cause in their favor is long overdue. “Old Books Matter!” Now that is a protest I could get behind.
As this aside has become its own longish comment, let me draw a line under it here.
Paul, Sun 19 Jul, 16:09
Paul and Don,
I agree with both of you on reincarnation. I’ve discussed this in past blogs, but to summarize:
The discarnate Frederic Myers said, through Geraldine Cummins, that the Buddhist’s idea of rebirth, of man’s continual return to earth, is but a half-truth. “And often half a truth is more inaccurate than an entire misstatement. I shall not live again on earth, but a new soul, one who will join our group, will shortly enter into the pattern or karma I have woven for him on earth.”
Myers likened the soul to a spectator caught within the spell of some drama outside of its actual life, perceiving all the consequences of acts, moods, and thoughts of a kindred soul. He further pointed out that there are an infinite variety of conditions in the invisible world and that he made no claim to being infallible. He called it a “general rule” based on what he had learned and experienced on the Other Side.
In his 1939 book, “Reincarnation for Everyman,” author Shaw Desmond states that there are two approaches to reincarnation – the “terrestrial” and the “celestial.” The former view has the individual returning again and again as the same man, while the latter view has man “solely as spirit and his temporary inhabitancy of the physical body as but a tiny projection of the Greater Self.
Michael Tymn, Sat 18 Jul, 19:47
When Frederick Bligh Bond asked a seemingly advanced spirit about reincarnation, the spirit replied: “You understand not reincarnation, nor can we explain. What in you reincarnates, do you think? How can you find words? Blind gropers after immutable facts, which are not of your sphere of experience.”
Yes, I agree. The ‘overshadowing’ of a discarnate entity, along with their memories and talents, upon an embodied individual, is clearly a strong alternative explanation for certain types of apparent reincarnation phenomena. As it turns out, the discarnate Timothy Gray, in the book chapter “The Pastime of Reincarnation”, makes the same point you have here: https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/b2bbde3b-d714-4d39-919c-0f930ad4181f/downloads/1c889gmfh_985817.pdf?ver=1584825670376.
The kind of evidence that Stevenson uncovered is, in many instances, open to more than one interpretation, reincarnation being one, but certainly not the only such possibility. Stevenson, careful researcher that he was, did insert in the title of his magnum opus the word ‘suggestive’ after all. In the ‘General Discussion’ chapter of his “Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation”, 2nd Ed, Stevenson does discuss possible alternative explanations, including possession [although I personally think the term ‘overshadowing’ is closer to the mark].
In the section ‘Extrasensory Perception and Personation’, he actually raises the analogous case of Leonora Piper’s control George Pellew (p.348) as an example challenging the interpretation of his cases as ‘extrasensory perception and personation’, when in fact it serves as a perfect analogy for an ‘overshadowing’ explanation. Further on, Stevenson addresses the ‘counterhypothesis of possession in reincarnation-type cases’ [see his index under ‘possession’ for pg. refs.], and has an extended discussion as to what he sees as its limitations (pp.374-82).
However, his major argument against the ‘possession counterhypothesis’ – the increased revival of memories upon return to the familiar earthly location of an ostensibly ‘overshadowing’ personality – seems to me to be largely without merit. If the ‘overshadowing’ personality was actually from a specific, visited place, such increased revival of memories would be unsurprising.
Stevenson rebuts (p.377) that a discarnate, ‘overshadowing’ personality “would surely have access to his knowledge of his own incarnate life irrespective of the physical location of the person he influenced.” This, however, runs hard against a raft of evidence from mediumistic communication that a discarnate individual, having ‘lowered vibrations’ to an earthly level, not uncommonly suffers from what might be characterized as temporary partial amnesia – the recollection of names, in particular, proves routinely problematic in such communications. Further, for those discarnate individuals ‘stuck’ near earthly conditions, confusion as to their circumstances appears to be commonplace.
Very interestingly, Stevenson (p.379) refers to the possession research of Carl Wickland, author of “Thirty Years Among the Dead” and makes a very sound point that the kind of ‘erroneous possession’ described in Wickland’s book is somewhat different in character to that which Stevenson has encountered in his reincarnation-type cases, while also stating that “Nevertheless, the possibility remains that some cases suggestive of reincarnation derive from the activities of discarnate personalities of this general kind.”
This actually suggests a possible ‘test’ that might be administered in future such reincarnation-type cases, in which the kind of ‘depossession procedure’ employed by the Wicklands or by Irene Hickman [see “Remote Depossession”], or as discussed in the ‘inserted’ Appendix III of “Beyond Human Personality” (the one section not authored by Myers) might be applied to such an individual and the outcome noted. If the second personality withdrew, that might be an indication of ‘overshadowing’, rather than ‘reincarnation’. This is merely a hypothetical surmise, however.
In all of this, I am not really invested in ‘defeating’ reincarnation as a possibility or ‘best explanation’ for the phenomena Stevenson has uncovered. As I stated two posts back, I consider reincarnation a ‘vexed question’ and have no fixed opinion regarding it. The possibility of hundreds or thousands of reincarnatory cycles personally appalls me for the reasons I stated there, but this is a different matter from what the truth and nature of reincarnation might be. I do note, however, that it seems inherent in Stevenson’s work that little may be concluded regarding how common or frequent reincarnation might be even if the basic reincarnatory interpretation is granted as well established. Reincarnation could still be an ‘absolute fact’ and yet largely irrelevant to most individuals in the same manner that ‘repeating a grade’ really happens yet is irrelevant to most students. If I were going to put my money on what I think is most likely the case, it would be on what Myers lays out in Ch.4 of “Beyond Human Personality” and in particular his statement there, “But the majority of people only reincarnate two, three or four times.”
Paul, Sat 18 Jul, 19:04
I have wondered at times if some, or a few, of the reincarnation cases are actually examples of possession. It may be not relevant but I think of several cases of organ transplant referenced by Stephen Braude in his book “Immortal Remains”, especially the case of one little boy who received a transplant from a young girl. He seemed to be aware of his donor and talked to her sometimes.
Braude includes a quote in which the little boy said “I talk to her sometimes I can feel her in there. She is very afraid. I tell her it is Okay, but she is very afraid. She says she wishes that parents wouldn’t throw away their children. I didn’t know why she would say that.” (As quoted from Pearsall et al., 1999 p.69)
In another case in which a little boy received a heart transplant He exhibited several traits of the donor that made his parents and the parents of the donor think that the spirit of the donor was somehow still alive in the child who received his heart. The example was when the families went to church.
“We came late and Jerry’s dad [the donor’s father] was sitting with a group of people in the middle of the congregation. Carter [the recipient] let go of my hand and ran right to that man. He climbed on his lap, hugged him and said ‘Daddy’. We were flabbergasted. How could he have known him? Why did he call him Dad? He never did things like that. He would never let go of my hand in church and never run to a stranger. When I asked him why he did it, he said he didn’t. He said Jerry did and he went with him” (Pearsall et al., 1999, p.67)
Although these are not reincarnation cases I think they might provide credence to the idea that some children who have certain knowledge of past lives may really just be in touch with a possessing spirit who is providing them information.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 18 Jul, 18:51
Personally I haven’t come to the acceptance of the possession idea in reincarnation cases but nevertheless the idea lingers there in the back of my mind. Specific reincarnation cases where a significant birthmark is exhibited, e.g., loss of fingers. large thick scar across the back of the head, I think are more likely to be reincarnation cases rather than cases of possession. .- AOD
Paul (and Michael)...
Some thoughts on the reincarnation question: It has struck me for some time that not enough attention has been paid to the “alternative” possible explanation for at least “some” cases of apparent reincarnation.
I’m not talking here about what we might call the more “typical” reincarnation scenario, where the soul is re-incarnated in a new physical body, for the assumed purpose of furthering its growth in a way that, for whatever reason, was not possible, or was left incomplete, in the previous go-round.
I’m referring here to the less typical—but more dramatic appearing—instances, seen for instance in a number of Stevenson’s cases, where the subject, usually quite young, displays an uncanny and by any reasonable estimation an impossible set of knowledge (later proven correct) about some demonstrably unknown deceased individual with whom the subject tends, to greater or lesser degree, to identify. In occurrences of this nature, I think a case can be made (or at least the possibility strongly presented)that—rather than dealing with a case of “reincarnation”—we’re actually dealing with a case of “possession.”
The literature on possession is obviously nowhere near as robust as that on mediumship—but there are certainly enough cases with the “ring of truth” that can be found, including some very compelling cases of “overshadowing”, to make this at least a legitimate possibility.
Don Porteous, Sat 18 Jul, 17:08
My apologies for the delay of reply to your post of last Sunday, but it’s been a busy week. It’s interesting, in your reference to Dr. Len Bowman’s seminar, the mention of NDE’s, reincarnation and world religions as the subjects of discussion. Putting aside the third, the issue with the first two is that, while they are interesting and engaging from an evidentiary standpoint – a not unimportant consideration for a general audience – they are both considerably less interesting from the standpoint of understanding the ‘big picture’ as to the nature and character of the afterlife.
As for NDEs, at best they are a kind of ‘temporary excursion’ – a kind of ‘day pass’ as it were. One is not settling in and really becoming a proper citizen of the place. In consequence, perspective is necessarily limited. Even when grand visions are revealed – as with a handful of more prominent NDE accounts – these are often ‘one-offs’ that stand or fall as isolated accounts.
As for reincarnation, there is a kind of mentality that seems to fixate on this, but such a view has, for some time, struck me – to adapt the term made famous by Chogyam Trungpa – as a kind of ‘spiritual materialism’, insofar as there is the impression that this ‘earthly context’ is ‘where the action is’. Such a view might also be termed ‘earthly myopia’ in that other ‘realms’, assuming one knows of them at all, appear highly abstracted compared to the terra firma with which we are only too familiar and are thereby discounted in relative importance, mere temporary resting places before cycling back for another go at embodied life.
Even should the evidence for reincarnation be strongly compelling – as with Ian Stevenson’s fieldwork in India – this really says very little regarding how common or frequent reincarnation might be. Here, I was struck by a para in the larger extract linked to by Jon below from W.T. Stead’s discarnately communicated “Life Eternal”: “The first question you ask is: does the larger proportion of souls who come over from the Earth sphere return to it? No, by far the larger proportion continue their development on our side, and do not enter the restriction of the physical body again.”
Stead has some authority as an investigator already experienced in discarnate matters while embodied, so his words, assuming they can be properly attributed to him, bear a certain weight. It is worth noting that his above statement is an even stronger one than that given by Frederic Myers in his discarnately communicated “Beyond Human Personality”. If Stead and Myers – both investigators of repute – are correct, there is a very good possibility that those reading this are in fact living their last – or even possibly only – earthly cycle of their extended existence. Let that statement sink it.
So, the ‘problem’ with both NDEs and reincarnation is that each has a strictly limited compass that only addresses a small fragment of the larger discarnate reality. Of course, this same critique might be made of other phenomena related to the question of discarnate survival. Both crisis apparitions and deathbed visions have the same limited compass as NDEs, if not narrower, despite their own highly interesting and evidentiary character. Such phenomena as hauntings, poltergeists, and ghosts are even less useful for addressing our larger question.
We are really driven to mediumship as the primary means by which a larger perspective might be either built up or received. Here, although it is tempting to draw a line between physical mediumship and mental mediumship, the real line of interest is that between mediumship that is merely or predominantly evidentiary and that which seeks to impart wisdom and information and may be only weakly evidentiary. In practice, there is usually something of a mix.
Many of the most spectacular examples of physical mediumship – such as Daniel Dunglas Home, Eusapia Palladino or even, more recently, the Scole Group – have, so far as I am aware, had little to convey regarding any larger wisdom or perspective. Conversely, a comparatively non-evidentiary form of mental mediumship, such as automatic writing, can prove the ‘channel’ for profound information, as one finds with William Stainton Moses and Imperator, Geraldine Cummins and Myers and many others, such as Grace Rosher or C.E.J. Fryer.
Direct voice mediumship offers, in a way, the best of both types, with the strong evidentiary character of physical mediumship, of which it is subtype, yet the open communication of information, insight and enlarged perspective. EVP/ITC would seem to offer a kind of ‘technological extension’ of direct voice mediumship, but so far has not appeared to measure up to the same mark as the great direct voice mediums of the past, such as Etta Wriedt, Emily French, John Sloan and Leslie Flint.
You mentioned having struggled with mediumship in your early years of study, and having to ‘get past’ the hokiness and apparent fakery of some materialization phenomena. My own path didn’t pass that particular way, and to this day, I’ve never deeply engaged with or worried about the early physical mediumship materialization phenomena that so many fixated on. I recall someone once writing in a passing remark: “physical mediumship is a circus act.” That fairly summarizes my own attitude. I wasn’t establishing my relative certitude regarding discarnate reality and its character upon those grounds.
In summary, it seems to me that if one is really going to have any kind of comprehensive understanding of the nature of discarnate reality, one is going to have to come to terms with mediumship, despite the higher boggle threshold involved. The best way to deal with easing oneself over this threshold is through a) recognizing supportive phenomena, including those mentioned above, b) noting evidentiary aspects of such communications where they are available (such as Oliver Lodge’s attesting to the stylistic recognizability of Myers’ discarnate writings in his foreword to “The Road to Immortality”), and c) tracing the cross-correlated consistency of detail found across multiple independent accounts. It is this last point that has proven most decisive for me personally.
Paul, Sat 18 Jul, 04:53
Thanks, Amos. A nice story.
Jon, Fri 17 Jul, 11:41
Thank you for providing that link to a very interesting NDE Seeing that it was 40 minutes long, I almost didn’t watch it tonight, but I found the 40 minutes and I am glad I did. It brought to mind a book I read a few years ago —“The Third Man Factor” by John Geiger. It includes 13 different stories about people lost in the wilderness and having paranormal experiences of one kind or another, primarily an unseen presence that guides them to safety. It also brought to mind the story of a man I met about 20 years ago who had an NDE while falling down a slope on Mt. Everest. I’ll have to hunt for that book and write a future blog on it, maybe tying in this story and some from the Geiger book. I really recommend the link you provided to others, especially to animal lovers.
Michael Tymn, Fri 17 Jul, 09:26
This is an extraordinary experience I recommend that everyone here look at. Don’t miss out on this young woman’s experience of a near death experience by freezing. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 16 Jul, 22:09
Elene and Francine,
I think it is a mistake to think that relationships are about working things out between two people, at least from a higher perspective. I don’t think it is like that at all. Each of us plays a role in physical life. Our experiences and our relationships have everything to do with us and little or nothing to do with resolving issues with someone else. Not really!
Physical life is about growing, learning, and evolving our own spirit. If it is about forgiveness, that is more about us than it is about the other person; we learn forgiveness, that’s all! Love also is more about us than another person. The only thing we really feel in a love relationship is the love and caring we give and not so much love we receive. It may be nice to hear someone say “I love you” but people ‘love’ a lot of things and feeling love and learning about love is something that can only be experienced when it is given away.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 16 Jul, 17:41
Physical life is supposed to be fun. Yes, even ‘bad’ things can be considered to be ‘fun’ when looked at from the perspective of the afterlife when it is then seen as a part of role playing. That’s what physical life is all about. One enters into a physical form, uses that form in life, human or otherwise and learns from it or through it. One learns about relationships, yes, from a perspective of loving and caring for each other—- or not—- but physical life is more of an opportunity to learn about ourselves IN a relationship rather than the relationship itself. - AOD.
If anyone is interested, in “Life Eternal,” a book “dictated” by William Stead to his daughter Estelle, 20 years after his death on the “Titanic,” he had much to say about reincarnation. “One chapter begins:
Theosophical doctrines teach that every soul must return to the Earth sphere and live in the body in order that it may exhaust what is called its Karma or original sin. This is considered by Theosophists to be the only theory which accounts for the unevenness of the conditions in the Earth life. It is an absurd contention, for if it were so, it would seem that free will were non-existent, and that there was a supreme and cruel purpose behind that punished or rewarded us, at the cost of centuries of suffering, both mental and physical.
“No, this is not the case. Those who reincarnate do so through their own desires, the decision comes from themselves. It may be that in some cases the Watcher of the soul thrusts it back into incarnation because he believes it will benefit by a second life, but it must not be imagined that reincarnation is forced on anybody.”
You can read more here.
Jon, Thu 16 Jul, 07:43
Reply to Francine:
You wrote, ‘In my view, why not work out “differences” in the afterlife itself instead of having the big hassle of reincarnating?’
That’s an excellent question. I wonder the same thing.
For years I worked on leftover past issues with my spirit contact with whom (as I understand it!) another version of me had an intense relationship with in the 19th century. There were a lot of painful emotional issues I had to find my way through, and both of us expressing a lot of sorrow about our actions in the past.
This has never made sense to me. Why in the world did we not “already” deal with those things in the afterlife? Why was it necessary for me to be on the planet in order to work with all that?
Or did we work out our issues in our afterlife forms, but somehow the current earth-based version of me still needed to do it again, perhaps in a different way?
It seems crazy to me that we still had past conflicts to deal with here. We do seem to be finished at this point, though. It’s been many years since any of those old problems last came up. But who knows, maybe there will be more.
I hope to understand this better after the death of my present body, but this makes me wonder whether that will happen.
Elene, Thu 16 Jul, 05:21
Reply to Simon:
“Perhaps in a different relationship it will be a time to work things out, a time to mend old wounds to provide balance and to forgive.”...
In my view, why not work out “differences” in the afterlife itself instead of having the big hassle of reincarnating? The Life Review should be a game changer for most souls.
If an abusive parent sees the error of their ways via the Life Review and apologizes - then problem solved = forgiveness. No reason to come back again together to do the dance in another way.
But even if the abusive parent refuses to learn from their Life Review - that is their problem. The ‘target’ is free and clear to evolve in the afterlife. There is lots of counselling that both targets and abusers will learn/heal from. In addition the target can see some of the Life Review of their abuser, so will gain understanding, such as how usually the abuser themselves were abused etc.
Francine, Mon 13 Jul, 15:22
Yes, I’ve encountered many people who seem to know all about near-death experiences and/or reincarnation, but they know nothing about mediumship. I gather also that there are many parapsychologists who know little or nothing about the psychical research carried on between 1850 and 1935. It seems to have all been buried away in dust-covered cabinets.
Either they haven’t heard about it, have dismissed it as outdated or pure bunk, or it exceeds their boggle threshold.
I noted just a few days ago that there is a three day seminar on “what comes after death” being taught by Dr. Len Bowman, in Delaware.
NDEs are the subject of the first day, reincarnation the second day, and traditions of world religions the third day. There is no indication that mediumship research will be discussed.
I must admit that I struggled with mediumship in my early years of study. Most of those ectoplasmic materializations were so hokey that I turned up my nose at them. However, I managed to stick with it enough to understand that they are mostly failed attempts by the spirit world to materialize themselves or objects. Moreover, the pioneers of psychical research were a bit too long-winded and unless one had a basic understanding of what was going on, they were difficult to grasp. It took me some time before I understood the difference between the direct voice of Etta Wriedt and the trance voice of Gladys Osborne Leonard.
One of the problems is that people see various clairvoyants on television and think that all mediumship is the same. They don’t realize how different the mediumship of yesteryear was from pure clairvoyance.
I agree with you on Dr. Laura Bellg. I interviewed her several years ago and highly recommend her book, “Near Death in the ICU.”
Michael Tymn, Sun 12 Jul, 21:10
I’m always happy when I find myself in complete agreement with you on a question. I’m tempted to say that that it means, I expect, that in such a case I am probably right, but I’m not sure that would be well construed by all readers. Your mention of Imperator and Silver Birch recalls to my mind a long arc of reflection that I have carried for many years and that was given a new perspective for me just the other morning. In looking for something salutary to accompany some early household tasks, I came across an IANDS talk by Laurin Bellg, an intensive-care physician and author of “Near Death in the ICU” [www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWN9zNcoRKY]. It’s very worthwhile talk, which I recommend. Dr. Bellg is very grounded and thoughtful, without the slightest trace of ‘woo-woo’ about her. This is all as it should be, particularly for one in her professional position. And yet, ‘stuff’ kept happening that she couldn’t easily reconcile with her medical training and the worldview accompanying it.
The issue is a familiar one, and it occurs at multiple points of engagement with the topic of posthumous survival (as well as with a variety of unrelated topics). In this regard, the parapsychologist Renée Haynes has introduced the very useful term ‘boggle-threshold’ “to indicate the level at which the mind ‘boggles’ or is thwarted by the degree of improbability of a phenomenon.” The thing that is not so readily recognized, even by those familiar with this term, is that one’s ‘boggle-threshold’ is not fixed and absolute, but rather can shift, particularly under the impact of further experience. In this, there is a kind of parallel that might be usefully drawn between one’s individual ‘boggle threshold’ and the collective concept in politics termed the ‘Overton window’ – “the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time” – in which this latter concept is explicitly understood to be shiftable and shifting. (This very lack of permanence can make one wonder what degree of ‘permanent truth’ can be found in any political opinion, no matter how topical – but I digress.)
One way of framing Dr. Bellg’s IANDS talk is as a tale of one physician’s shifting boggle-threshold in relation to the topic of NDEs and, by extension, posthumous survival. The boggle-threshold is a measure of ‘strangeness’, and a phenomenon becomes ‘less strange’ through one’s gaining of familiarity with it. NDEs are a straightforward example. A physician such as Dr. Bellg is educated in a ‘medical model’, trained to high level to be an effective ‘bio-mechanic’ [her term] in which the approach to treatment usefully conceives patients, in their collective ailments, as ‘meat machines’ [in this regard, see Terry Bisson’s delightful short story, “They’re Made Out of Meat” (http://www.mit.edu/people/dpolicar/writing/prose/text/thinkingMeat.html)], and works in a context in which there is a great degree of professional social pressure to conform to this view. Such a background is ‘unhelpful’ for considering NDEs as anything other than the delusions of a dying brain – in other words, ‘boggle-threshold exceeding’. As an alternative case, take someone else, similarly grounded and thoughtful, but who has not undergone a ‘deep indoctrination’ in the medical model, having instead imbibed the writings of researchers such as Raymond Moody, Bruce Greyson, Kenneth Ring, Peter Fenwick, Sam Parnia, Jeffrey Long, Pim van Lommel and Penny Sartori, read or watched an abundance of accounts from near-death experiencers, or undergone an NDE themselves. For such an individual, NDEs would naturally fall within their boggle-threshold.
I myself took the latter journey many years ago after having been thoroughly indoctrinated in the ‘scientific model’, closely akin to the ‘medical model’. From my perspective, it is very charming to see Dr. Bellg’s gradual and cautious ‘toeing over the line’ into acceptance of NDEs as real phenomena. I wish her well in her journey. NDEs seem to form something of a ‘halfway step’, so far as the broader set of discarnate-related evidentiary phenomena are concerned. This plays out in two broad ways. In the first case, there are many individuals – including many well-established doctors and scientists – who accept the reality of NDEs and study them assiduously, but who rarely if ever venture further afield into the consideration or study of other phenomena such as mediumistic communication. This would seem – and my judgment of the situation may be imprecise – to be more the rule than the exception among serious NDEs researchers. As such, NDE studies have become a kind of ‘artificially closed baliwick’, isolated from a broader consideration of discarnate evidence. In the second case – and this was the case for myself – NDEs can serve as a kind of ‘gateway drug’ that in due course opens the inquirer to the consideration of other, broader evidence. It is, I think, perfectly clear what lies beneath these two divergent outcomes, and in both cases, it is one’s ‘boggle-threshold’ that is at play. In the first, individuals are able to place the NRE under their personal boggle-threshold, but there it ends. In the second, individuals are able to place the NRE under their personal boggle-threshold, and then subsequently use this as a ‘springboard’ to eventually move other phenomena under as well.
I can’t say that my taking mediumistic and related communications seriously was a quick or easy transition or path from my study of NDEs. In fact, I avoided such for many years, as the whole topic of mediumship was too ‘woo-woo’ for me. In short, it exceeded my boggle threshold. I can’t recall precisely what eased me across that particular line – it was likely a combination of factors – but certainly the seriousness, objectivity and thoroughness of the early researchers of the British and, subsequently, American Society for Psychical Research deeply impressed me. And yet, I continue to exercise active critical judgment with regard to any given discarnate source. Even if there are sources that I think highly of, I really only put high confidence in the collective, coherent understanding of discarnate reality as gleaned from multiple independent sources. Further, I recognize that even when a) the medium is competent and trustworthy, b) the degree of distortion is minimized (hence the particular value of direct-voice and ITC), and c) the discarnate communicator is matured and competent in their understanding, statements can still be unsupported by the larger literature, and have to be bracketed, or even considered inaccurate, ill-informed or wrong. Further yet, no discarnate communicator, having recently or not-so-recently passed from this world, speaks with ‘authority’. Myers, whom I have more confidence in than perhaps any other discarnate source, says this explicitly regarding his own communications back. Nevertheless, I’ve ‘gotten familiar’ with what I term the ‘discarnate-related literature’, which has, in the main and in its collective, coherent understanding, moved below my own boggle-threshold.
The matter of discarnate teachers, though, is something I am still coming to terms with. To understand the nature of the issue, it is sufficient to consult Jon Klimo’s “Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources” – which is by far the most comprehensive survey of channeled sources and materials – to understand the basic nature of the problem. And his book is now 22 years out of date, with more such sources having emerged in the intervening years since its publication. In brief, we have Seth, Ramtha, ‘The Masters’, Bashar, Abraham, Mafu, Emmanuel, Lazaris, the Peliadians, Michael, Saint Germain and more (oh my!) How it one to make sense of all this mélange? I have no easy answer, other than the general and passive one of avoidance. Certain ‘discarnate teachers’ may individually pass below my personal boggle-threshold on their own merits or on the basis of some sympathy of encounter that I have with their writings. Many have not, not least as I simply haven’t looked into their communications. (Ars longa…) Imperator and his band definitely have a place in my sympathies, but they are an exceptional case. Silver Birch is somewhat further distant as is Seth. Others are definitely ‘over threshold’. Perhaps in time my views will alter, yet some boggle thresholds are best left unpassed.
Paul, Sun 12 Jul, 18:03
Thank you for your comforting reply Michael…
They say that in the afterlife you gravitate to like minded people, so whew, I should be OK then. It is just all this over emphasis on your literal family members, including creepy Uncle Bob coming to get you because now they are good as gold angels.
Of course, it is mediums (authentic or not) that perpetuate this belief because their business is to comfort the people who lost people who really loved them. Probably most of the people from toxic families never go to mediums in the first place. Except I did. My mother supposedly showed up with her phony personality but didn’t apologize. So after that reading I was afraid for a while that this is what would be greeting me when I died.
Michael, Sun 12 Jul, 15:22
Thank you for your reply Simon…
Yes, that would be beyond tacky if an abusive parent is part of the greeting party - unless they’ve changed and you can tell this right away. If everyone has a Life Review, one would think that this alone would help people evolve a little bit. Plus counselling for new arrivals etc. So I hope this is true in my mother’s case. But narcissists would find it harder because their whole life was a lie.
I don’t agree with the switching of roles as if we are in a play belief system (perpetuated by Robert Schultz). My plan is not to reincarnate back here. In fact, if it was suggested I have to come back with my family members again I’d say NO. No real loving God would expect that of us. I subscribe to the Gnostic viewpoint where this world is not what it should be (fallen) and it wasn’t our fault.
Thanks for the 2 NDE youtube links.
Francine, Sun 12 Jul, 15:04
I don’t have an answer from Catholicism on your question, but I do have a pointer, at least, to a ‘solution’ that might be borrowed from Islamic metaphysical teaching, as found particularly in the Persian ‘mystical’ schools of ‘Irfan (gnosis), in which the deceased in the grave, if found to meet certain ‘minimal requirements for felicity’, finds that the ‘grave’ enlarges or expands infinitely in their experience and opens upon Paradise, such that the deceased might be considered as at once ‘in the grave’ and yet also ‘in Paradise’. This obviously cannot be made sense of in any familiar physical terms, but in terms of understanding discarnate existence as dominated by the ‘imagination’ and itself an aspect of the ‘imaginal world’ (mundus imagnalis), in which what is internal to one’s soul becomes externalized as one’s objective experience, it can be seen to make a kind of sense. More than that, I cannot say. I don’t know if that is of help to you.
Paul, Sun 12 Jul, 13:59
Just a quick additional note to the question by Francine that Amos, Michael and Elene have responded to. I think that their responses, taken in total, present a comprehensive general answer, which might be summarized under two points:
First, as a governing principle to the ‘ordering’ of discarnate reality, that of ‘affinity’ – which one might term the ‘principle of affinity’ or ‘law of affinity’ – dictates to a very large extent not only one’s ‘posthumous sorting’ but also one’s ‘posthumous company’. Now ‘affinity’, which is associated with the ‘quality of one’s vibrations’ [and see my comments to Stafford Betty’s most recent post for what these mysterious yet ubiquitously mentioned ‘vibrations’ might be understood as], is also associated – particularly with regard to relationships and ‘the company one keeps’ – with ‘love’ and with ‘sympathy’. Here, it would seem that the notion of ‘sympathetic resonance’ would be a useful one to introduce, although I don’t recall this terminology from the discarnate-related literature. In brief, if one is not in a relation of ‘love’, of ‘sympathy’ or of ‘sympathetic resonance’, with another individual, one would not naturally find oneself in company with them. With that said, there are complicating factors. I recall from the literature cases of ‘earthly’ husbands and wives, both passed, for whom there is a strong bond of mutual love and affection, yet for whom a difference in ‘vibration’ lands them in different discarnate levels. In such cases, the ‘more progressed’ spouse will often ‘hold back’ their own advancement to help their partner along. Further, as Amos has explored [in the para beginning “I often wonder…”], relationships can be complicated and such issues as co-dependency can be difficult to untangle. I recall from Frederic Myers’ “The Road to Immortality” a kind of representative story that he tells of a family who pass into the next life in which the mother has a kind of smothering, co-dependent relationship with her children and how that plays out.
Second, relationships can vary between how they are ‘terrestrially’ and how they are ‘discarnately’, and such can alter for, I expect, two primary reasons, both of which have been explored by the other commentators. a) One’s perspective enlarges upon entering into new life, and just as bodily restrictions are lightened so also restrictions upon understanding are eased. b) One has ample opportunity to mature in perspective, not least through life review. Both these factors would contribute to a ‘bettering’ or ‘easing’ of relationships that might have been fraught with ‘terrestrial’ difficulty.
A final thought is the question of the ‘persistence’ of family relationships following the passing out of terrestrial existence. I don’t think any kind of blanket statement can be made, apart from perhaps the following observation: what would lead to families continuing to ‘cohere’ and hold together, for whatever period of progression, would be the mutual affinities within the family structure. If those mutual affinities are weak or absent, one would not expect a discarnate family structure to necessarily cohere for very long. With this said, the family structure is the ‘natural’ context in which bonds of mutual love and affinity are nurtured in this life. Given this, it is only to be anticipated that this ‘structure’ would, in most cases, persist into the next as well.
One final comment. There is a self-evident distinction between ‘family-relatedness’ and ‘affinity-relatedness’ even in this life. When the Dalai Lama first started giving Buddhist teachings in the West, he framed these in traditional pedagogic methodologies that assumed that one possessed a natural affection for a) oneself and b) one’s mother. He was taken by surprise by the sheer number of Western students who didn’t much like themselves or their mother!
Paul, Sun 12 Jul, 13:38
Thank you for your comments and questions. I can only respond to your question about Catholic teachings by saying that I have been told by at least two practicing Catholics that they don’t teach those things these days. They apparently recognized the conflicts at some point and decided it best not to teach anything about purgatory or the resurrection. They just don’t talk about it now.
At least the Catholic Church has a middle ground between Heaven and Hell, something most Protestants don’t have. Also, Catholics don’t seem to be as stuck on the atonement doctrine as most Protestants. While it seems be all “faith” and acceptance of Jesus as one’s savior with Protestants, the Catholic Church factors in “works” as contributing to one’s station in the afterlife, whatever name be given to it. In effect, one can be “saved” by doing good works even if she or he doesn’t recognize Jesus as her/his savior. (Note: I refuse to use a plural pronoun (their) in the last sentence, even though some grammarians now deem it acceptable. I’m “old school.”)
I don’t think you can get a definite answer on any of this from Church scholars or clergy.
Michael Tymn, Sun 12 Jul, 09:06
Thank you for your additional contributions to the overall discussion. I think we are in complete agreement as far as God and Jesus are concerned. As you may know by now, I give much weight to the words of both Imperator and Silver Birch. To quote Imperator, as recorded by William Stainton Moses:
“You inquire from us what position we assign to Jesus the Christ. We are careful not to enter into curious comparisons between different teachers who, in different ages, have been sent from God. The time is not yet come for that; but this we know, that no spirit more pure, more godlike, more noble, more blessing and more blessed, ever descended to find a home on your earth. None more worthily earned by a life of self-sacrificing love the adoring reverence devotion of mankind. None bestowed more blessings on humanity; none wrought a greater work for God.”
To quote Silver Birch: “The Nazarene is one of the hierarchy behind all the directives we receive when we leave your world occasionally to fortify ourselves to cope with with our mission and to glean more of what it is we have to achieve.”
As you may know, Maurice Barbanell, an atheistic Jew, was the medium for Silver Birch, apparently a group soul, i.e., a number of spirits speaking as one.
Michael Tymn, Sun 12 Jul, 03:25
Given the recent exchange in the thread between Michael and Amos on the topic of light, I wanted to provide additional testimony from the discarnate-related literature to address further the nature of the light there encountered. The general theme is that of progression into the Light of the Divine, the Source of All. This progression is at once ‘internal’ and ‘external’, ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’. As one progresses, one becomes – indeed must become – more ‘light-filled’. To quote from four sources that give testimony to this understanding:
Imperator: “Man must prepare himself for spiritual light, for God never illumines a darkened soul.”
[William Stainton Moses, “More Spirit Teachings”]
The Unknown Teacher: “The light is within. It will glow ever clearer.”
[Alice Gilbert, “Philip in the Spheres,” p.42]
John Heslop: “God is light and the nearer we get to God the brighter we become. You may remember when Moses talked with God, the reflected radiance of his face was so great that he had to put a veil over it when he returned to the children of Israel.”
[F. Heslop, “Speaking Across the Border-Line”, p.54]
Philip Gilbert: “Light is the secret of the Universe. I seem to be learning that here – Light and more light, blazing, permeating one’s being till it burns away all the dross and one is Light. And yet, they say, one keeps one’s Ego (at least as far as anyone, even of the Advanced People, know) right up through the very highest planes of consciousness yet attained by anyone known – but I suppose even that is not the whole – there is something beyond.”
[Alice Gilbert, “Philip in Two Worlds,” p.202]
At the same time, the manifold ‘levels’ – characterized as of ever finer or higher ‘vibration’ – are also characterized by ever finer and greater illumination. As the ‘external’ is reflective of the ‘internal’ and the ‘objective’ reflective of the ‘subjective’ in discarnate reality, the essential relation between the ‘light within’ and the ‘light without’ is only to be anticipated. To quote from four sources that give testimony to this understanding:
Julia Ames: “There are degrees of this Light [of God]. Between the grey confines of the Borderland, between Heaven and Hell and the radiant glories of the spheres where souls perfected in the Love of God and man are to be found, there is an infinity of space. And we grow and evolve, more and more, in the realizing sense of the glory that suffuses the world and all the universe of worlds.”
[Julia T. Ames, “After Death,” p.168]
Tim Gray: “Let it suffice to say that vibration is light that moves, and that which moves is alive. Every thing moves; every thing vibrates; every thing is alive. Life is filled with light.”
[August Goforth, “The Risen”]
Philip Gilbert: “One can rise into a dimension of pure Light, it seems. One feels exhilarated, ecstatically so – yet there is Life there too, but I feel it, I don’t see it. I can only stay there for the briefest flash because I have got to stay in consciousness of the near-earth plane in order to help you and do my job.”
[Alice Gilbert, “Philip in the Spheres,” p.115]
Tim Gray: “The more one has advanced within the level of one’s consciousness, and is able to maintain an awareness of that consciousness, the easier it is to translate the awareness into a higher vibration, which is a finer movement of the substance of being. We have become more light-filled because we have expanded our consciousness and thus can hold and maintain more light. I literally mean actual light, not something symbolic. Think about it ~ the more light there is in your presence, the more you can see. And seeing is achieved here with what we previously experienced on earth as inner sight, although now with greatly transmuted facility and completely replacing the former physical faculty of perception.”
[August Goforth, “The Risen”]
In the ‘Utmost’, the ‘Highest’, the ‘Creative Source of All’ is the very height and center of the light that illumines all levels of being, which is the ultimate End toward which the soul progresses. To quote from three sources that give testimony to this understanding:
Ross “I have sensed the Eternal and it seemed to concentrate in one great Figure flashing out Light, like a lighthouse. Beams fell upon me rhythmically and all my being leapt to meet them. It was a harmonic progression! I have to adjust to this new phase of ‘here’ for I am working now definitely on two levels – the hospital always demanding but with intervals of a withdrawal or merging into a deeper awareness of vibration and reaction of a light which seems to penetrate my inmost self – to be circulating.”
[Alice Gilbert, “Into the Everywhere,” p.49]
Frances Banks: “That statement may be interpreted symbolically by my readers as referring to the Light of Wisdom, of Knowledge, of Understanding of the Unity of the Life in all things. But a difficult point I would try to make clear is that, in this further phase of our existence on this plane, the reference to Light is to be interpreted literally. We are progressing into Light and yet more Light. To us, now, references to the ‘golden Throne of God’ which formed part of our religious instruction on earth, now reveal definite hidden Truths. The Utmost of such light is beyond our comprehension, which is still limited, or even our highest aspirations.”
[Helen Graves, “Testimony of Light,” p.144]
Stainton Moses: [regarding the onward progress of the spirit] “You do not know what becomes of it then? Does it lose identity?”
Paul, Sat 11 Jul, 21:20
Imperator: “We do not know. It would naturally lose much of that individuality which you associate with independent existence. It would lose the form which you associate with personality. And the spirit would be proportionately developed, until it was fitted to approach to the very Centre of Light and Knowledge. Then, indeed, it might be that individual existence would be forever merged in that great Centre of Light….We only know that ceaseless progress nearer and nearer to Him, may well assimilate the soaring spirit more and more to His nature, until it becomes verily and indeed a son of God, pure as He is pure, stainless as His own immaculate nature, yea, perfect with some measure of His infinite perfection. This is our vision of glory; assimilation to the Divine; growth in knowledge and in grace; approach nearer and yet nearer to the Essence of created Light.”
[William Stainton Moses, “More Spirit Teachings”]
What a useful post, and an exceptionally erudite and helpful discussion! I am saving this page for future reference and study.
It’s horrible that Amos’ Patience Worth site was destroyed, but I’m so glad to know that the Internet Archive saved a copy. They do good work. I just donated to them the other day, and recommend that others do the same.
This discussion has sparked more thoughts than I can add here, but I do have a question I hope that Mike, on the basis of his memories of catechism classes, can shed some light on. Or maybe someone else here who was brought up Catholic can speak to it.
Here is the question: I went to Catholic school for 12 years. We were taught, as in the creed, that we die and are resurrected on the Last Day, that is, that until Jesus comes back to resurrect those who are saved, we are under the ground and dead. (A reason that Catholicism until recently frowned on cremation.) At the same time, we were taught just the opposite, that our dead loved ones were in Heaven and were happy in the presence of God—or possibly stuck in Purgatory, needing our prayers to bail them out. Saints were considered to be quite alive in Heaven and able to give us help in various ways.
Obviously these two things are completely contradictory. Note (Michael Roll, you particularly) that I did not and do not believe in either of these concepts. I am just wondering if anyone has seen an explanation from within Catholicism or other Christian sects about why they are both taught. I have not been able to find any, and devout Catholics I have asked have told me that they found this confusing as well.
(The Nicene Creed refers to the ‘resurrection of the dead,’ while the Apostle’s Creed refers to the ‘resurrection of the body.’ Neither of these seem compatible with the idea that the virtuous dead immediately take up an afterlife in Heaven.)
I know that some varieties of Christians get extremely upset if they are presented with evidence that we are NOT dead and totally inactivated until such time as we are resurrected, and those folks consider all spirit activity to be demonic. Catholicism seems to be less rigid on this issue, but strangely of two minds.
Regarding one other facet of the discussion: Someone asked what happens in the afterlife with relatives who were abusive or with whom we had toxic relationships. Spirit sources have suggested that we have different relationships with the same souls (or whatever we would call them) in different lives, and that evil-seeming actions in one life may balance those of another life, all aiding the development of the persons involved. So in the next world we might perhaps have a broader understanding of these experiences and not be so hard on each other?
Thank you all again for this enlightening conversation.
Elene Gusch, Sat 11 Jul, 20:32
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 11 Jul, 16:27
Your 7/10/20 comment is well said. I want to mull it over for a while. - AOD
Good observation Michael.
Light seems to be a recurring feature of the majority of NDEs but not in all. It seems that the point of light and a tunnel eventually appear as the NDE progresses but may not be apparent at the beginning of the NDE. Some people just find themselves instantly outside of their body with no change in their consciousness. They want to participate in the scene unfolding below them but are frustrated that they cannot interact with the people surrounding their dying or unconscious body. As the NDE unfolds they report that they rise above the scene and travel outside of the earth’s realm and enter into a tunnel with a light at the end that increases in size until it engulfs them and through which they merge into a supernatural environment where they usually encounter radiant beings sometimes described as beings of light.
I am trying to think back to spirit communicators not associated with NDEs and I cannot think of any who talked about a light although I sense in my memory there may have been one or two who briefly mentioned it. I will keep an eye out for any.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 11 Jul, 16:15
Patience Worth did not discuss a tunnel or light but did indirectly imply the light of heaven in a poem about awakening after death to find one’s self in “Yester-year”. The poem is reminiscent of reports of some people who return from an NDE in that it implies a grandiosity while at the same time a normalcy of heaven in which “…even the crime-stained wretch, abasked in light, shall cast his seed and spring afruit!” - AOD
Here are two in-depth accounts of NDEs you might enjoy. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 10 Jul, 20:25
Yes, there have been some reports of people being greeted by a more distant relative or a distant friend. In a few cases, the guide was someone the person never knew during her or his life. The key seems to be that the deceased relatives or friends greeting the newly arrived soul were in spiritual harmony with the person.
Michael Tymn, Fri 10 Jul, 20:04
The light seems to be associated with people who were not yet “dead,” i.e., NDErs. I did not recall any after death communicators talking about the light. Also, I did not recall the William James reference when I compiled the list, but I think I would need more references than that one and more clarification of the “essence” and its similarity to the “light” seen by NDErs to include it. I’ll search and see what I can find. Thanks for calling it to my attention.
Michael Tymn, Fri 10 Jul, 19:59
You bring up a very pertinent concern about reunions in the afterlife, one that I have thought about often. Most of us have not always had the best relationships with everyone around us including relationships with those close to us including mothers and fathers. One wonders what those relationships will be like in the afterlife. Will they continue to be toxic as you imply? My understanding about this concern comes from the many NDEs which I have read and those I have seen and heard on videos.
It seems that most of the NDEs involve meetings with benevolent loving welcoming entities, radiant beings of light if you will. Often the identity of those entities is not known to the person having the NDE and when they are known, they seem to be people like grandmothers or grandfathers with whom the NDE-er had a loving relationship or was closely attached (but not always) when in physical reality. Often three entities step forward to greet the person with one of them dominant. Often there are many other entities, sometimes a crowd composed of welcoming spirits that the NDE-er cannot identify. I have not found NDEs where the dying person is repulsed by anyone with whom they had a bad or toxic relationship. There is no repulsion or fear in the meeting it seems but to the contrary, it is one of great warmth, welcoming, love and a returning home. (Home of course is not the same to everyone but the NDEs suggest an idealized home where everything is warm and fuzzy so to speak.) The exception of course is in those few NDEs where the dying person finds himself or herself in a location seemingly peopled with demon-like spirit entities who seem to be pulling the transitioning soul down into darkness.
All thoughts will become known to all in the afterlife. Nothing will be hidden. And it seems reasonable to me, based on the NDEs that if one does not want a relationship to continue in whatever form in the afterlife it will not. Some people think our thoughts make our reality in the afterlife. Maybe so, but regardless, I don’t think one will be forced to encounter those people who wronged us in some way in life.
I often wonder about those relationships that on the surface appeared to be good and that children think are good because they have little relationship experience but in reality are toxic relationships of co-dependency, relationships where the parent dominates the child or over protects the child, relationships that include emotional abuse which a child was too young to understand until adulthood, usually late adulthood—-if ever—-and of course physical abuse. I wonder if the departed spirits ever ‘wise up’ and now understand their toxic relationships and atone for them in some way.
I think that there is a new understanding in the spirit world. An understanding of the roles we all play in the drama we think of as life in the physical; an understanding that we were not always parent and child but sometimes husband and wife, brother and sister, or just good friends or acquaintances.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 10 Jul, 17:27
Reincarnation may be another thing however. Reincarnation is another opportunity to encounter those same spirit entities with whom we may not have had the best relationship in a past life. Perhaps in a different relationship it will be a time to work things out, a time to mend old wounds to provide balance and to forgive. -AOD
I have no issue or quibble with your preference for the term “Higher Power”, rather than “God”. I myself frequently prefer to use terms such as “the Absolute” or “the Real”. I recognize that the term “God”, despite being the ‘standard’ or ‘conventional’ referent for that which we are trying to speak of here, is a loaded one for many people. Other terms may certainly be deployed. In any regard, all are merely pointers and placeholders for that which cannot truly be spoken of – as you say, “beyond human comprehension.” As for spirit communicators saying that they have never ‘seen’ God, this is only to be expected. The Reality we are gesturing toward here is not a ‘person’, is not ‘anthropomorphic’, does not have a ‘body’, is not a ‘thing’ or ‘being’ that could in any wise be ‘seen’. About the closest one might come is when Frances Banks describes her experience of the Divine Presence as an encounter with ‘Light’, as when she states at the end of her communications, “If there is a message in these writings it is the simple statement that all is Unity and that Unity is Light.” The encounter or experience of the Divine presence as light is one common in the discarnate-related literature as well as in ‘terrestrial’ religious and mystical experience. Your statement regarding the literature that “I don’t recall any having said that there is no God or Higher Power” has, I think, great significance, given that you are likely the widest read in this literature of anyone I know of and that your judgement on this point concurs with my own wide reading. Given what Stafford Betty has stated in his published writings, I feel confident that, on the basis of his own wide reading, he would concur as well.
In my prior comment, I stated that the conception of God as given in ‘classical theology’, or, more closely yet, in the ‘perennial philosophy’, hews closely to the understanding of the “Higher Power” as conveyed in the discarnate-related literature. That is true, and yet as the Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft has noted, classical philosophical theology – what David Conway terms “the classical conception of philosophy” – is a kind of ‘minimal statement’ regarding what might be said of God. One central point that it tends to miss is the love or beneficence that characterizes this Reality. In this regard, a useful corrective to such philosophic formulations may be found in the private remembrance of Blaise Pascal, discovered sewn into his coat following his death: “The year of grace 1654, Monday, 23 November, day of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr. From about half-past ten in the evening until about half-past twelve, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers nor of the Wise. Assurance, joy, assurance, feeling, joy, peace…Just Father, the world has not known thee but I have known thee. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.”
The picture of love as the central motive and drawing force encountered in the afterlife is one that is shot through the literature, encountered at nearly every turn. Again, Dante, in his central concern for the nature and consequences of love, both human and Divine, seems to have, in the final line of his Commedia, penetrated to the heart of things when he writes of “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” One of the interesting things about juxtaposing the passages in my prior comments in this thread from the discarnate Frances Banks and William James is that they are very different individuals, each with a very different temperament and formation – the first religious and mystical, the second scientific and agnostic – and yet both speak, in their own particular ways, of the love and beneficence, there ‘at the heart of things’, they have discarnately encountered.
As to your second para, and your conception of Jesus as “Chairman of the Board,” I am resistant to such a conception, but not for the reason one might think. As I have stated in a comment to a past post of yours, the ‘conventional Christian’ understanding of Jesus as the ‘only begotten Son of God’, is not supported in the testimony of the discarnate-related literature, even as the exalted discarnate reality of Jesus is supported in that same literature. So far, so good, and in this we stand in general agreement. What we need to recognize, however, is that the discarnate-related literature as we have it is not a wide-ranging, cross-civilizational collective testimony, but rather the collective testimony of a particular ‘civilizational sector’ of discarnate reality, which happens to correlate with the historically Christian West. Voices of other discarnate ‘civilizational sectors’ are largely absent from our knowledge, although other such discarnate ‘civilizational sectors’ must certainly exist. As such, we are getting, to some degree, a slanted understand of matters – a slant that is likely to affect most significantly matters of cultural and religious understanding as they apply to discarnate experience.
None of this should be particularly surprising. An extreme case is the book “Swan on a Black Sea”, which is evidentiarily compelling – in fact, one of the most evidentiary writings we possess – yet it becomes clear that the deceased interlocutor, Winifred Margaret Coombe Tennant, is essentially carrying out a posthumous existence carefully isolated in her own narrow frame of reference, much as some incarnate British grande dame of her class and generation might do. Even the discarnate Frederic Myers, dead for twenty-five years of our time, having died the ‘second death’ out of the third (astral) and into the fourth (casual) plane, and so hardly a discarnate ‘newbie’ when having communicating back through Geraldine Cummins – nevertheless comes off to a large extent as basically that which he was in life: a Victorian Englishman of Christian formation steeped in Classical learning. This is a great deal, but not without its narrowness. For instance, his posthumous critique of the Buddha vis-à-vis Christ, in which he seems never to have heard of the Bodhisattva vow, is at once shallow and uninformed. I say this with the greatest respect and affection for the man, who is really a hero to me and whom I consider myself – and really all of us – deeply indebted to, but there it is nonetheless.
This takes us to back to the possible ‘chairman’ status of Jesus, who is unquestionably the central figure of Christian civilization, yet just as unquestionably not the central figure of other civilizations. What of these other exalted spiritual figures, who are themselves ‘central’ to their own civilizations? In this regard, there is a very interesting passage in the book “Chapters of Experience”, communicated by the discarnate Douglas Conacher in the course of a long series of conversations with his wife via Leslie Flint’s direct voice mediumship, which form part of the Woods-Green archive. Conacher states: “Many people say: ‘Some of the teachings of the Buddha are very akin to the teachings of the Christ’, or ‘Many of the teachings of the Christ are not exactly dissimilar to the teachings of Mohammed’ and so on. Well, of course, all these great teachers are quite often of the same spirit. By that I do not mean that they are the same individual, which is quite different. There is such a thing – of which, possibly, the people on earth have no realization – as the group spirit, as well as the universal spirit. Many of these great teachers and prophets are of the same group who come from a very, very high sphere, a very advanced stage of being, and have at different periods of history chosen to return under a different guise.” (p.55)
This is a heady thought, one that is very attractive: that the ‘central spiritual figures’ of humanity, such as Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad, Zoroaster, Lao Tzu and Moses, are all members of the same exalted group soul. As such, they would be “members of one another”, such that Jesus would not be ‘chair’ but would certainly have a ‘board seat’, perhaps one quite high on the table. But, of course, even this is to, in all likelihood, metaphorize badly, as we are at the very limit of our conceptions. As for your three photos, I think you are good leaving them just where they are…
Paul, Fri 10 Jul, 15:47
8. Reunion: There is a reunion with departed loved ones and friends… This may well be true for some of the population but what if your family was toxic/unconscious whereas you are a conscious black sheep? Or worse, your parent/s were narcissists. I dislike that there is always this stock answer without anyone looking at how it really is for some of the population. Since the unconscious people aren’t automatically enlightened, that means they may try to abuse you in the afterlife as well. So much for a happy reunion. Who would want people like this greeting you when you die?
Francine, Fri 10 Jul, 15:00
In almost all of the NDE accounts that I have read, and I have read and listened to a few, the NDE-ers all talk about a light, starting from a barely visible pinpoint to one that grows and to which they are attracted until it is an all-encompassing light that they sometimes perceive as a radiant being of light, a loving being with which they merge and in whom they feel safe and loved and through which they may enter a heavenly environment. William James, in the quote Paul provided of course does a much better job describing this light, this “atmospheric presence” as he calls it. But there can be no mistake that the atmospheric presence that James describes so eloquently is the same being of light that the people who experience an NDE ineffably try to describe. = AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 10 Jul, 12:24
Paul, my hero Arthur Findlay says if one must have a God then it is better to have a whole stack of gods. There are no atheists in foxholes because so many people link the subject of survival after death with religion. I link survival as a scientific fact -Crookes, Lodge and Arthur Findlay. Rita Goold’s great success was down to the fact that she had done away with anything even remotely connected with religion and gods. Therefore she had immediately contacted fellow non religious people in the etheric world. Michael Roll
Michael Roll, Fri 10 Jul, 10:46
I think we are on the same page as far as “God” is concerned. I would use “Higher Power” that is beyond human comprehension as my definition of God and leave it at that. Many of the spirit communicators refer to God, but say that they have never seen “Him.” I don’t recall any having said that there is no God or Higher Power.
At the same time, I often refer to Jesus as “Chairman of the Board,” and prefer to see him in a leadership role on the Other Side. That may be heresy for many Christians, but it works for me. As I type this, I look up to three photos on the wall, with Jesus on top and Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle below him. Like most people, I need to be able to visualize a “being” of some kind overseeing it all rather than feeling an “atmospheric presence.” I recognize my limitations and have learned to live with them.
Michael Tymn, Thu 9 Jul, 23:01
Michael, the “Rational Wiki” website is so far out from reality that I can only laugh at it. I must say that I was flattered to be linked with you in that comment that you are I are “devout spiritualists”. I really had to laugh. Rational Wiki must have been written by a 14 or 15 year-old boy to say such stupid things as that. How could he possibly know what I or you ‘are’? I can’t image that anyone would think that that website provides any worthwhile information. You just can’t fix stupid, Michael! - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 9 Jul, 21:06
The following considerations have been sparked by recent exchanges in this thread as well as Michael’s ‘10 Lessons’ in the originating post. Under Lesson #2, Michael quite rightly points out that the ‘survival question’ is ‘tactically separable’ from the ‘God question’ and that the former can be approached, studied and settled (at least for oneself) independently of the latter. This is Michael Roll’s position as well, if I understand it correctly, and I fully concur with both of them. At the same time, Michael completes Lesson #2 with the statement “One can accept survival and infer some kind of Creator or Higher Intelligence without believing in a humanlike God or subscribing to the whole “worship” side of religions. To put it another way, the evidence for survival leads to God, not the other way around.” That is the part I would like to explore a little bit further here, particularly the final sentence.
The basic point is this. If one provisionally accepts, in the main, the testimony of the discarnate-related literature, one is also faced with accepting that this testimony is unanimous on the basic question of the reality of God. Put another way, just as there are ‘no atheists in foxholes’, there appear also to be no ‘atheists in the afterlife’. Although it’s possible that I may not have read or may not presently remember such, I nevertheless don’t recall a single instance from the discarnate literature professing any recognizable form of atheism or the denial of the reality of God. There could, in principle at least, be such, given that discarnate individuals can be ‘stuck’ in a ‘narrow atheism’ as much as in a ‘narrow creedalism’. If anyone reading this knows of a countervailing case, I would be interested to hear it, particularly from a source of some discarnate maturity, wisdom and advancement.
I do not, in saying this, mean to suggest that the understanding of ‘God’ that one finds in this literature is fully supportive in detail of any terrestrial religion. This appears not to be the case. Nevertheless, the general discarnate understanding of ‘God’ is very close to that found in the ‘classical theology’ of the Greek and Abrahamic traditions, as presented, for instance, in David Conway’s remarkable book “The Rediscovery of Wisdom: From Here to Antiquity in Quest of Sophia” Or, to cite another touchstone, it is very close to the cross-traditional understanding of God presented in David Bentley Hart’s brilliant book “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss.” Given the choice of deciding, in dispassionately objective terms, whether the understanding of God as found in the discarnate-related literature accords more closely with atheistic secularity or with the best that traditional religions and philosophies have thought – which I would associate with the perennial philosophy (philosophia perennis) that both Conway and Hart are able expositors of – I think that it is inescapable to conclude that this discarnate understanding is completely divergent from the former while closely hewing to the latter.
Occasionally, one comes across a case of a former atheist – such as the late Forrest J. Ackerman, as conveyed in the recent book “An Atheist in Heaven: The Ultimate Evidence for Life After Death?” – who, as it were, publicly reverses his position from beyond the grave. Another, agnostic example that comes to mind is that of William James, a notorious – at least to Michael Tymn – philosophic ‘fence sitter’ during his life. In Jane Robert’s remarkable mediumistically communicated book, “The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher: The World View of William James”, the discarnate James encounters an ‘atmospheric presence’ that beneficially permeates and is present to all things. In description, his account might usefully be considered in parallel with the long passage from Frances Banks regarding “the Light of the [Divine] Unity with all things, all creatures” that I quoted from earlier in the thread. James states:
Nowhere have I encountered the furnishings of a conventional heaven or glimpsed the face of God. On the other hand, certainly I dwell in a psychological heaven by earth’s standards, for everywhere I sense a presence, or atmosphere, or atmospheric presence that is well-intentioned, gentle yet powerful and all-knowing. This seems to be a psychological presence of such stunning parts, however, that I can point to no one place and identify it as being there in contrast to being someplace else. At the risk of understating, this presence seems more like a loving condition that permeates existence and from which all existence springs….
While I mention this [atmospheric] presence as itself, so thoroughly does it pervade everything that attempts to isolate it are useless. All theological and intellectual theories are beside the point in the reality of this phenomenon. I know that this presence or loving condition forms itself into me, and into all other personalities; that it lends itself actively to seek my good in the most particular and individual ways; yet that my good is in no way contrary to the good of anyone else, but beneficial….
I connect the knowing light with the well-intentioned atmospheric presence…, since both have been a constant in my afterdeath experience thus far, and I study this phenomenon rather steadily at times, reminding myself of a caveman or other prehistoric man looking up at the sun and trying to understand its properties. Specifically, I have not called this knowing light an entity, in terms of personhood. Yet I am sure that it possesses a psychology far divorced from any with which I have ever been acquainted; that it knows of my curiosity and examination; and is not annoyed, but invites it….
This presence must be termed atmospheric. Again, I can think of no better word, and it (the presence) cannot be pinpointed as existing in any “here” as separate from there, but coexists in all places. Searches for an analogy do not particularly help either. The closest idea I have is to compare this atmospheric presence with the quality that exists on the most ideal summer day: the delightful, enchanting scent and touch of the air itself seems to be imparted everywhere, so that flowers, trees, grass, people, mountains, valleys – all seem to lie in its enchantment and add to it. So this atmospheric presence with its knowing light has the same effect, both psychologically and in my experience of everything else that exists outside of me….
Surely such a summer day seems benevolent, alive, and has a buoyancy that is added on to the other seasons. That is, an extra-appealing aura seems to be imparted to earth on such a day. No doubt this is the reason that many spiritualists referred to afterdeath as Summerland, but as a psychologist I am fascinated by something else: I know that this atmospheric presence does not have what I refer to as human characteristics, yet it does possess characteristics of an emotional nature, and it is this exuberance, this well-intentioned quality, that psychologically supplies my feeling of complete safety. It is as if I bask in the light of a psychological atmosphere that corresponds to the physical atmosphere of an ideal summer day….
This atmospheric presence is ever-changing while in a strange manner remaining the same. I theorize at times that it is the combined consciousness of the entire universe by whatever description, existing within all consciousness, yet apart. At the same time, I am sure that more is involved. Nevertheless, in this light the conditions of existence are the most supportive and encouraging imaginable. (pp.162-6)
Paul, Thu 9 Jul, 20:14
That quote from RationalWiki…
“The only supporters of Patience Worth are devout spiritualists such as Amos Oliver Doyle and Michael E. Tymn. Doyle has an entire website dedicated to Patience Worth and *he refuses to accept the evidence which shows she was not in contact with spirits*”.
For someone considering himself rational, I wonder how does evidence “which shows she was not in contact with spirits” looks like.
ududy22, Thu 9 Jul, 15:37
Dear Michael Roll,
Again, my comments were not directed at you per se, and I am certainly not ‘hitting you with this God business’. As for citing Gore Vidal, a political commentator and essayist, as an authority on religion or for claiming that those who have ‘made a careful study’ of religion would naturally agree with his statement, there’s really not anything for me to say, as you appear, like the Christian friend you originally cited, to be ‘unshiftable’. To cite a source rather more authoritative than Mr. Vidal, “To you your religion and to me mine.” As for myself, if you really feel the need to pigeonhole me, I don’t ascribe to any ‘one-god religion’, but (if anything) to an ‘only-god religion’. Let that be an end to the matter.
Paul, Thu 9 Jul, 13:36
Payl, it is no good you hitting me with this God business. Those of us who have made a careful study of the great religious hoax on the human race agree with the American philosopher Gore Vidal when he says: “The one-god religions are easily the greatest curse ever to be inflicted on the human race.” Michael Roll
Michael Roll, Thu 9 Jul, 10:34
If you put “Patience Worth” into a Google search, you’ll come upon an entry at Rational Wiki, which says:
“The only supporters of Patience Worth are devout spiritualists such as Amos Oliver Doyle and Michael E. Tymn. Doyle has an entire website dedicated to Patience Worth and he refuses to accept the evidence which shows she was not in contact with spirits. Tymn also claims Patience Worth was a real spirit; he says Patience Worth only had elementary school education and could not have known the information in her scripts. Tymn does not mention Curran was well read in poetry and literature.”
I’ll bet Amos was surprised as I was to be identified as a “devout spiritualist.” I’ve attended a half-dozen or so spiritualist functions and have contributed articles to their national magazine, but I have never been an official member or any spiritualist organization. My personal interest in spiritualism was more a matter of research, as I never felt the need to communicate with the “dead” on a regular basis.
On the other hand, I consider myself a spiritualist in the broader sense of the word, i.e. not a materialist. Rational Wiki and Wikipedia don’t seem to grasp the difference between a “spiritualist” and a “Spiritualist.”
Michael Tymn, Thu 9 Jul, 08:29
I appreciate your appreciation…if you know what I mean. Thank you for the additional comment by Imperator: “You cannot grasp what eternity means…” Indeed! The remainder of the quote – “Sufficient now that we demonstrate to you enduring existence, and intelligence existing after the death of the physical body” – reminds me of the two ‘leading truths’ I cited in closing in a comment two posts back:
We are immortal.
We are partakers in God.
Words worth coming back to, again and again. I just finished rereading – for, I think, the third time – Helen Greaves’ “Testimony of Light”, which is so salutary it is well worth revisiting, especially after a long absence. The discarnate Frances Banks emphasizes, particularly towards the end, the ‘serial nature’ of our existence. Our embodied lives here are but a ‘chapter’ in our extended, immortal existence, a very helpful perspective to contemplate when difficult times – such as our present national agony – can lead one too near to the edge of despair.
Her final transmitted words, which I had forgotten and which, rereading them only this morning, had a profound effect on me in the context of my own spiritual journeying and striving for the unitive vision of God in all things in my own halting way, are worth quoting here. May they be a blessing, as they were for me:
Yet each “unit” [soul] must be proved, i.e., its Light must be subjected to the test of veils of density in other spheres of action. So many units return again and again to the nothingness of dense matter, bravely asserting the lasting reality of their illumination. So often such units, clothed in their passing personalities, fall into ignorance, becoming subject to materialistic concepts. Some are blessed on their journeys by flashes into the Light, and in rare cases, the Light gained in these spiritual Worlds holds steady, shining through the fleshly masks to bless and encourage their fellow travelers in the darkness of supposed separativeness. Light shines from the eyes of these advanced egos, and is reflected in the magnetic fields which surround their dense bodies.
Paul, Thu 9 Jul, 04:56
Perhaps my greatest regret now is the realization that, while I was seeking and searching mentally, psychically and occultly to discover that “breakthrough” to spirit for which I longed, the Light of the Unity with all things, all creatures, all Beings, all Hosts, all Powers dwelt within me in ineffable glory.
“I am the Light of the World” means just that.
Jesus, the Master, reflected that Light pure and untrammelled during His dwelling in the density of crude matter. The Light dwells in all of us as a shining effulgence, the Light of Oneness with all Spirit, the blessed awareness and acknowledgment of unity with all creation from the lesser to the Higher Orders, even to the Throne of Grace Itself.
“Let your Light so shine before men . . .” is essentially a fact here where each is revealed by his light.
May it be true then, of those who read these words on earth. May the Light of Awareness of Divine Unity shine through the illusive and temporal veils of assumed personalities, so that, in preparation for this further experience, they may indeed be known by their Light.
God Bless You all.
I didn’t know that Jeffrey Mishlove’s “Thinking Allowed” site had been hacked as well. I normally find his “Thinking Allowed” interviews – which I warmly recommend to all – via YouTube direct search. He has some with Stafford Betty in particular that are well worth one’s time. [Just Google “Thinking Allowed” “Stafford Betty” YouTube and all the links will come up.] Your experience with ‘Wikipedia guerrilla editors’ is disappointing but unsurprising. I long ago learned not to trust Wikipedia on any ‘non-mainstream’ topics, as the behind-the-scenes editorial process seems typically to be an exercise in ‘reality policing’. Although I haven’t tried to introduce content to Wikipedia as you have, there are many, many times where I have reviewed a non-mainstream topic in which I have deep familiarity only to see it completely misrepresented in the relevant Wiki page. Anyone familiar with the topic will see immediately what’s going on, but a neophyte – which is what most of us are on most things most of the time – would be easily misled.
It reminds me of something I once heard the physics Nobelist Murray Gell-Mann say as an aside in a seminar, which has since come to be known as the Gell-Mann amnesia effect. Here’s the author Michael Crichton’s description: “Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the ‘wet streets cause rain’ stories. Paper’s full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.” If newspapers – written by journalistic professionals with depth of experience, resources, institutional reputation and a code of ethics – can be characterized in this way, you can imagine that must be true of Wikipedia by some multiplicative or possibly exponential factor.
Needless to say, it is important for those interested in the kind of topics discussed in this blog to find alternative sources of information. One of the best of topical relevance, which can readily serve as a Wikipedia substitute in this regard, is the Psi Encyclopedia, hosted by the Society for Psychical Research: https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/. In passing, I should note that Michael Tymn has authored a number of entries for it, including one on Patience Worth.
I can understand you not having the ‘punch’ to reconstruct your site on Patience Worth. As an intermediate suggestion, you might consider adding a paragraph to your http://www.patienceworth.org homepage briefly explaining what happened to your http://www.patienceworth.com site and noting the direct link to the archived site as per my previous comment. That way, the material could still be found and studied by interested readers and would take very little effort from you to carry out.
As a final note, your comment that “it is apparent that there are people who do not want to hear anything about possible spirit life” reminded me of a film, presently available for streaming on Netflix, on the life of Allan Kardec, which I recently viewed. Titled simply “Kardec” (2019), it is a well done film detailing Kardec’s ‘arc of engagement’ with spirits and Spiritism, from his first skeptical encounters with the phenomenon of ‘table tipping’, then all the rage in the salons of Paris, to his research, writing and eventual publication and defense of “The Spirits’ Book”. Along the way, he has to deal with plenty of people, on both sides of the veil, who don’t want to hear anything from him about possible spirit life and in some cases actively work to undermine his mission. So it goes, but it might help put your own travails in a broader context. As a side note, I recommend for non-Portuguese speakers to skip the English dubbing, which is awful, and watch with the original spoken Portuguese and English subtitles. As the language might suggest, the film was produced in Brazil and was directed and produced by the same individual who directed and produced “Nosso Lar” (2010), based upon the book of the same title by the noted Brazilian medium Chico Xavier. Brazil is a particular ‘stronghold’ of ‘Kardecian’ Spiritism, which forms part of the broader discarnate-related literature while retaining its own particular ‘flavor’.
Paul, Thu 9 Jul, 04:28
To Amos Oliver Doyle
Just a short notice to say I also appreciate your work on documenting Patience Worth’s life and work. I was happy to find out your more in-depth site survive in archived form, as I only lately searched for it and could only find your simpler .org domain.
ududy22 ., Thu 9 Jul, 00:12
Thank you for your additional contributions to the discussion. I’ll add one comment from Imperator here:
“You cannot grasp what eternity means. Sufficient now that we demonstrate to you enduring existence, and intelligence existing after the death of the physical body.”
Michael Tymn, Wed 8 Jul, 20:46
Thank you Paul, I don’t know what to say. I was not aware that my site was archived somewhere. I did keep a hard copy however which is gathering dust. The achieved copy loses some of the ‘punch’ since the formatting and some of the illustrative photographs were not archived. Nevertheless. the whole site appears to be there. I have another site at patienceworth.org with another hosting company that has functioned for 15 or more years without a hitch or hack. Seeing the archived site of patienceworth.com only strengthens my suspicions about what I think really occurred with the take-down of the patienceworth.com site. The same thing happened to another site that embraces paranormal topics called “Thinking Allowed” done by Jeffrey Mishlove. The take-down of his site was exactly the same as the take-down of my site. Apparently he paid the fee to restore it to the hosting company who in my opinion should have prevented such hacking of sites they host in the first place!
It is apparent that there are people who do not want to hear anything about possible spirit life. I wrote the initial Patience Worth page on Wikipedia which was eventually trashed by the Wikipedia Guerrilla editors so that good reference sources were not allowed and the bottom line of the Wikipedia page is that Patience Worth was a fabrication of Pearl Curran. I stopped trying to edit the page after a while (which is what the guerrilla editors want) Here is one of my encounters with a guerrilla editor. I think it will give you an idea about what Wikipedia is all about:
“Doyle you are a spiritualist crank on record for claiming every medium i.e. bogus frauds like Fox Sisters, Helen Duncan were genuine and spirit possession is real, so why should anyone take your quackery seriously? You ignore what professional psychologists write on the subject, you filter out any of the skeptical material, and just keep claiming Patience Worth was a spirit even though there is no empirical evidence such as person ever existed. You quote mine Walter Franklin Prince even though he exposed Mina Crandon and various mediums as fraud but you never mention the negative frauds. Your website is not balanced it is biased towards paranormal nuttery You wrote  “Pearl Curran, while she was receiving dictation from the spirit of Patience Worth once described her experience as accessing historical information from a “magic picture book”, although she did not mention the Akashic Records as did Edgar Casey. Here is a little bit about how she described it ...This sounds to me as if she were accessing information previously recorded somewhere 2,000 years ago, information which she reportedly had no way of knowing but information which turned out to be historically correct..” utter psycho nonsense, so you believe in the fraudulent Edgar Cayce as well (who also believed in laser beams from Atlantis), the Akashic Records (there is no evidence this exists) and other nonsenses. Hilarious. It’s hard to tell if you are for real or not. You have spammed in nonsense on the Wikipedia article. You are not competent to being editing a wiki. Wikipedia is not interested in your crazy beliefs. You damage this website SandraEggs (talk) 14:36, 24 July 2015 (UTC)”
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 8 Jul, 16:26
I don’t know what I will do now. I too have lost some of my ‘punch’ lately so I don’t think I have the energy to put the site up again with another hosting company. I may have someone else do it for me depending how complicated it would be. I don’t have any ads on my sites so I receive no money from either of them. I don’t know. It was so discouraging that I have lost most of my enthusiasm for anything these days. The Patience Worth case is a difficult case to properly discern and there are not very many people interested in it. But initially, I did it for Patience as she stated at one time when someone questioned the value of her work that “It be bread” if only the sparrows come to eat it; or something to that effect. - AOD
Dear Michael Roll,
Actually, I was quoting the Angelic Doctor quoting the Bible… That aside, I think you misjudge the intended audience of my two comments on Christianity and the ‘spiritual body’, which was not yourself, but – as I stated at the top of my first comment – your ‘unshiftable’ Christian friend, and, by extension, Christian readers who may be wondering, or perhaps wrestling, how to reconcile their faith with discarnate-related testimony. Given such an intended audience, why wouldn’t I cite the Bible and Church Fathers in highlighting points of closely suggestive comparison between Christian tradition and discarnate-related testimony? I certainly do not do so as any kind of attempt at a ‘blanket approval’ of the Bible or an incitement to lure anyone into the ‘clutches of priestcraft’. I am not, in any case, any sort of ‘conventional Christian’, and certainly not the ‘Bible quoting’ kind you imagine me to be. I wish you well.
Paul, Wed 8 Jul, 15:48
Your observation that 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 states “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” is a good one. You make a good point. Thank you.
Jon, Wed 8 Jul, 15:35
It’s no good quoting the Bible at those of us who have escaped from the clutches of pristcraft. What about this rubbish that we are told is the wish of God, the creator of the universe no less?: Psalm 2, 8-9. “I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Michael Roll, Wed 8 Jul, 10:34
Hence the Christians going across the world and pinching other peoples’ countries, and killing the natives. I come from Bristol in England where the statue to the Christian slave owner Edward Colston has just been knocked down and thrown into the harbour.
The following is an addendum on my earlier comment regarding Christianity and the possibility of a ‘spiritual body’. In “Compendium Theologiae,” Book I, Chapter 168, St. Thomas Aquinas offers further interpretive comment, drawing on the quoted passage from Paul, on the four ‘dotes corporis glorificati’, the bridal gifts of the resurrected body, which so remarkably accord with empirical descriptions of discarnate embodiment. In the first para, it should be noted that Aquinas, a faithful follower of Aristotle is expressing the Peripatetic doctrine of hylomorphism, that the ‘body’ is ‘matter’, the ‘soul’ is the ‘form’ of the ‘body’, and the two form an inherent ‘compound’. The chapter commences (tr. Aquinas Institute):
Of the Gifts of Glorified Bodies
This doctrine gives us an insight into the disposition of the bodies of the blessed. The soul is both the form and the motive force of the body. In its function as form, the soul is the principle of the body not only as regards the body’s substantial being, but also as regards its proper accidents, which arise in the subject from the union of form with matter. The more dominant the form is, the less can any outside cause interfere with the impression made by the form on matter. We see this verified in the case of fire, whose form, which is said to be the noblest of all elementary forms, confers on fire the power of not being easily diverted from its natural disposition by the influence emanating from any cause.
Since the blessed soul, owing to its union with the first principle of all things, will be raised to the pinnacle of nobility and power, it will communicate substantial existence in the most perfect degree to the body that has been joined to it by divine action. And thus, holding the body completely under its sway, the soul will render the body subtle and spiritual. The soul will also bestow on the body a most noble quality, namely, the radiant beauty of clarity. Further, because of the influence emanating from the soul, the body’s stability will not be subject to alteration by any cause, which means that the body will be impassible. Lastly, since the body will be wholly submissive to the soul, as a tool is to him who plies it, it will be endowed with agility. Hence the properties of the bodies belonging to the blessed will be these four: subtlety, clarity, impassibility, and agility. [“Erunt igitur quatuor conditiones corporum beatorum: subtilitas, claritas, impassibilitas et agilitas.”]
This is the sense of the Apostle’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:42–44. In death the body “is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption”; this refers to impassibility. “It is sown in dishonor, it shall rise in glory”; this refers to clarity. “It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power”, and hence will have agility. “It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body”; in other words, it will be endowed with subtlety.
Paul, Tue 7 Jul, 21:36
I just looked into whether the Internet Archive had possibly archived your site on Patience Worth prior to its hacking, which might thereby serve as a basis for its possible reconstruction as well as an immediate source of access to its content for interested readers. Such is the case. The last time the site was successfully archived by Internet Archive was in October of 2017, which is available here: https://web.archive.org/web/20171016004125/http://www.patienceworth.com/. I don’t know if all subpages were archived as well, but the few subpages I have tested all come up without issue – including images, which are often not captured in archiving – so it is possible that the entire site, as of the archival date, is available via Internet Archive for readers. This site appears to be distinct from your other site, http://www.patienceworth.org, which is also of interest. Both sites are a real yeoman’s service, as Patience Worth’s written legacy always reminds me a bit of the Cross Correspondences in the sense that both are of considerable interest and significance, but massively extensive, somewhat obscure, and in consequence difficult to access.
Paul, Tue 7 Jul, 19:56
You ask “When/where does the individual human soul/spirit begin?” It is, as Michael rightly replies, a very difficult question to answer. It is also not one widely addressed in the discarnate literature. The only source that comes immediately to mind is the early ‘bible’ of the Spiritist movement, Allan Kardec’s “The Spirits’ Book”. The reply to Question 13 of that text asserts the eternality of God, that to Question 17 asserts that it is not given to mankind to know the first principle of things, and that to Question 21 – Has matter [including ethereal/subtle matter (cf. Q.22)] existed from all eternity, like God, or has it been created at some definite period of time? – asserts “God only knows,” while also suggesting that the Divinity has never been inactive. All this is very much in line with Michael’s statement that your question is “beyond human comprehension.”
We may be able to take the question a little bit further, if only tentatively so. The first point of note is that to ask “Where? When?” in regard to such a beginning is to impose categories of understanding that don’t, in all likelihood, apply. We know from the uniform testimony of the discarnate literature that even in ‘ordinary’ discarnate experience, time isn’t experienced as we experience it here. There are sequential events that discarnate individuals experience, but no sense of the passing of time as we have. We know from Myers (“The Road to Immortality”) that at higher discarnate levels – the sixth and seventh particularly – even this ‘aeviternal time’ passes into timelessness proper. So much for the “When”. As for the “Where”, we have, again from Myers, but also from multiple other sources, that the discarnate ‘levels’ or ‘domains’ are not located in space, but rather are ‘in consciousness’ and ‘of consciousness’. They may well be experienced by those who dwell within them as having ‘spatial extension’, but such does not necessarily accord with there being ‘actual space’.
The analogy of a dream is useful to bring in here. When one dreams, there is the experience of both the passage of time and spatial extension, but neither are ‘real’ in a waking sense, both having been ‘generated’ out of the creative and imaginative power of the dreaming mind. If we are all, in the beautifully poetic expression of Myers, like “ships in harbour, within the infinite imagination of God,” then the ‘dream metaphor’ may be readily extended. We are held within the Divine imagination and our sense of temporality and spatiality is only within this encompassing reality. In other words, time and space are ‘categories of our experience’ without ultimate objective reality. When and where – from the dreamed one’s perspective – did the dream begin? No answer at that level can be given.
If I were to look for an answer to your question, I would not look to the discarnate literature, but rather to traditional metaphysics. In particular, I would recommend you look at the writings of the Neoplatonic sage Plotinus, who describes the ‘origin of soul/spirit’ in terms of emanation from the One, or metaphysical first principle, down through gradations to the level of matter. John Deck’s “Nature, Contemplation, and the One”, while not without its challenges, is a clear and penetrating treatment within a manageable compass of Plotinus’s philosophic system and would be a reasonable place to begin, all the more, as the specific concern of that text, on Plotinus’s understanding of contemplation as creative, dovetails very well with the understanding of reality, both discarnate and material, as being the ‘product’ of the Divine imagination.
Paul, Tue 7 Jul, 19:07
Thanks Michael. It is true. I had a very good website about Patience Worth and it was destroyed by ‘hackers’. Actually I think it was more than just hackers but I have no proof. Be that as it may, I will never host anything with “Bluehost” again. I was demoralized by the hacking of my site as I had put a lot of work into it. I felt it as a severe personal blow. The hosting company would fix it, if I paid them a lot of money. Considering the lack of interest in the Patience Worth case I have given up on trying to do anything more with it but I did retain a copy—-somewhat incomplete I think.
The Patience Worth case is not the typical ‘woo woo’ case. There are no apparitions or materializations, no direct voices, apports or anything of the kind; no floating lights or will-o-the wisps. It is one that requires a lot of time and effort to consider. I think it is a case for scientists, philologists, linguists and other intellectuals to figure out. It takes a lot of reading and research.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 7 Jul, 17:40
However, for me, Patience Worth provides some of the best evidence of life after death. What she says strikes to the very core of my being and I can feel and almost see what she writes about. There is no answer to this case and few people want to argue it because very little or nothing can be refuted. Walter Franklin Prince provided a comprehensive review of the Patience Worth case in the middle 1920s. There have been other books about her, notably Irving Litvag’s book “Singer in the Shadows” a very readable book that includes information from later than the period of time Dr. Prince studied her. A more recent book “The Patience of Pearl” by Daniel Shea is available but I don’t recommend it because it has too much opinion and conjecture about Pearl Curran in it. There are however a few tidbits which I believe might be true which I found interesting and verified what I had surmised from other sources, but I found the book to be very biased against Pearl Curran and way too much English-professor-self-promotion.
I have found that there are considerable similarities between Geraldine Cummins and Pearl Curran in the way that information came to them from the ‘spirit world’ Both of these women saw panoramic scenes of what they wrote about and heard people speaking. Cummins’ report of her experience is in some places almost word for word of Curran’s experience receiving communications from Patience Worth. Both of these women, Cummins and Curran, transmitted stories set in the approximate same period of time 2000 years ago. Pearl wrote ‘The Sorry Tale’ about people living at the time of Jesus and Cummins wrote ‘The Scripts of Cleophas’ about Christian history and the Acts of the Apostles.
I have to admit that I am wearing out with all of the purported information about life after death as it gets to be repetitive after a while. I guess I will find out for myself soon. - AOD
The following is in reply to Michael Roll’s post and might be taken as a possible answer to his ‘Christian friend’. First of all, it should be recognized that the suggestive or relevant passages found in the New Testament were addressing individuals of Jewish and Hellenic culture with no cultural referent for ‘subtle bodies’, such that a certain ‘metaphoric imprecision’ in expression is to be expected.
In the Gospel accounts, the encounters with the ‘glorifed body’ (‘corpus gloriosum’) of the resurrected Christ would seem to give ambiguous evidence as to its nature. Thus, in John 20:19, he enters a room in which the doors were shut, and in Luke 24:15, he suddenly appears or is noticed among the disciples on the road to Emmaus and just as suddenly departs. On the other hand, Christ denies, in Luke 24:39, being a spirit and in Luke 24:42, eats fish with honey. One should also mention the experience of the transfiguration of Christ, so beloved by Hesychasts, on Mt. Tabor, Matt 17:1-9, which might be understood as a ‘shining through’ of the ‘glorifed body’ (‘corpus gloriosum’), even prior to Christ’s death.
In the writings of Paul, 1 Cor 15:42-44 (KJV), there occurs the remarkable statement: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” Of particular interest is the final statement, in which Paul states that there is both a natural body (‘sōma psuchikon’) and a spiritual body (‘sōma pneumatikon’) and that what is raised in the resurrection of the dead is the spiritual body (‘sōma pneumatikon’), not the natural body (‘sōma psuchikon’).
The terms ‘glorified body’, ‘spiritual body’ and ‘resurrection body’ occur variously in the New Testament and would collectively suggest a distinctive nature and quality between this ‘body’ and the garment of flesh we wear in this present life. The Church Fathers described further the ‘dotes’ or ‘bridal gifts’ that characterize this body, which include ‘incorruptibilitas’ (freedom from decay), ‘claritas’ (the emanation of light or inner splendor), ‘agilitas’ (dynamism, rapid movement), ‘subtilitas’ (fineness and penetrability). The close similarity of these descriptors to those found in the discarnate-related literature is remarkable and very telling.
I have only touched upon some aspects of the topic, but a much more extensive discussion on the question as it relates to Christianity may be found in J.J. Poortman, “Vehicles of Consciousness”, Vol.2, pp.66-110
If we look for empirical evidence outside for the existence of ‘subtle bodies’, there are four lines that suggest themselves as being most persuasive. First, the large mass of testimony on out-of-body experiences (OBEs), which indicates a ‘bodily locus’ of individual conscious awareness distinct and apart from the physical body. Second, the large mass of testimony on near-death experiences (NDEs), which – like OBEs – point to the same common phenomenon of a distinctive and subtle ‘bodily locus’. Third, the consistently uniform testimony from the discarnate-related literature that discarnate individuals are not disembodied ‘ghosts’ or ‘spirits’, but clearly embodied – if in bodies of a subtler and finer nature – and that, particularly in the most common transition level that deceased individuals find themselves in (Myers’ ‘third plane’), these bodies are, in appearance, remarkably similar to those they had ‘in life’, if ‘cured’ of injury or disease and of an ‘age’ of prime maturity in appearance. Fourth, the widespread phenomenon of crisis apparitions, in which recently deceased individuals appear to those close to them in familiar embodied form, even as their physical bodies may be in their deathbed, the morgue or the ground. Such apparitions frequently have the full sense to the experiencer as possessing ‘embodiment’, sometimes even including the sense of touch, and yet also capable of both appearing and disappearing ‘in a trice’, indicating that such ‘embodiment’ is not ‘conventionally physical’.
To summarize: The varied testimony and thought of the Christian tradition on the question of the nature of the resurrection body does not reduce to a single, dominant position, but rather leaves the question an open one for any seeking Christian who studies the question in breadth and depth. Apart from this, multiple lines of empirical evidence strongly suggest that there is, in fact, a ‘spiritual body’ that may be identified with Paul’s ‘sōma pneumatikon’ and that is closely characterized by the ‘dotes’ (‘bridal gifts’) of the Church Fathers.
Paul, Tue 7 Jul, 15:22
Many thanks to all for the thoughtful comments. It is rewarding to know that these blogs and White Crow Books are helpful to some.
To answer Rod’s question about when the human spirit/soul begins, I don’t have an answer other than that all indications are that it didn’t begin with the current lifetime, i.e., that we have lived through a number of lifetimes. However, as stated in #9, so much of it is beyond human comprehension. A number of seemingly advanced spirits have communicated that they don’t have all the answers and that they struggle to put words to things they do have answers for. They say that celestial matters can’t be explained in terrestrial terms. Of course, the debunker might take that as a cop-out, but it makes sense to me.
Paul, I agree that the three books you mentioned are all valuable references. It has been a number of years since I read them and I’d have to reread them to properly answer your question. See my blog post of December 5, 2016 for my top 30 books before 1950. I was reluctant to rank more recent books, as I know or have communicated with many of the authors and I didn’t want to slight any one of them by not ranking his or her book near the top. Definitely, Stafford Betty’s books would all be near the very top of any list I might make of more current books. The same with John White’s books.
As I recall, the Patience Worth story is near the top of my pre-1950 list. Amos Oliver Doyle, who commented above, is probably the world’s foremost expert on Patience Worth. Unfortunately, his very interesting website on Patience was hacked and came down.
Michael Roll’s personal story would rank near the very top of any list of individual stories.
Michael Tymn, Tue 7 Jul, 11:45
Mike, my Christian friend is adamant that there is a physical resurrection. He does not recognize that there is a spiritual body that breaks away from the dead physical body. The religious brainwashing goes very deep. Nothing will shift him.
Michael Roll, Tue 7 Jul, 09:37
I think your list is very solid and would only perhaps quibble around the margins here and there – irrelevant for the purposes to which it is aimed. If I were in your shoes, asked to advise someone actively dying, and had to limit myself to the recommendation of “a good book”, I would squeeze in two: the first, for this side of the veil, Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick’s “The Art of Dying”; the second, for the other side of the veil, Paul Beard’s “Living On” (narrowly edging out, for the purpose in mind, the books by you and Stafford Betty). If I could add one discarnate source, I would tag on Frederic Myers’ “The Road to Immortality”. Those two (or three) books would see one through quite well, even if one were a complete neophyte to the topic. Let me know if your opinion varies.
Paul, Tue 7 Jul, 04:48
When/where does the individual human soul/spirit begin? Your response will be/is appreciated. Thank you.
Rod Johnson, Tue 7 Jul, 02:44
Very good Michael, I hope this is a teaser for you new book.Can’t wait to see it.
The best NDEs I have seen are the ones from the German NDE site: Empirische Jenseitsforschung
I can’t recommend this site highly enough. I find these NDE accounts to be very informative and reassuring. Not all of them have English subtitles but eventually English subtitles are added. Many of them do have translations. I think your friend and his wife might find solace in these NDE accounts. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 6 Jul, 20:56
I concur with everything said here. My research yields the same conclusions. One thing Mike forgot to add. Did the long-lost friend come around?
Stafford Betty, Mon 6 Jul, 19:45
Thank you, Michael.
Denise, Mon 6 Jul, 18:20
Truth, so beautifully articulated.
In the evolution of the soul or growth to higher consciousness, we move mentally from blind belief to confident expectation. Your writings provide the basis for that. They provide a rational basis for religious faith. You are bridging religion and science, Thank you for presenting fact-based commentary about the process, Mike, and wisely demonstrating the presence of God in that process.
John White, Mon 6 Jul, 15:53
Very well put. I’d say it reflects my own feelings After almost twenty years of research.
Paul, Mon 6 Jul, 15:47
Have been in and out of white crow over the last few months and just needed this as I have been vainly waiting for e-mail replies apropos the new zooming craze which has brought old cricketing chums to the forefront - not much depth and longevity to it in reality.
But thought of my England cricketing hero this morning, Bob Willis who idolised Bob Dillon and departed us some months ago.
I had met him in quite an intimate way when I had dreams of following him in his footsteps and he was very nice to me. My dreams didn’t come to fruition nonetheless and I have no regrets in this regard. Dream are good though.
I got those sort of cold but nice shivers and felt his presence much like when dear dad departed us.
Thank you for this, my local Catholic Church has seemingly(though understandably)retreated us during this pandemic, leaving dear mum to her watery eyes watching mass on the computer.
I have been re-galvanised to connect with dad again through White crow’s writings.
Thank you very much,
Michael, Mon 6 Jul, 13:39
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